Auburn linebacker Kris Frost and his fellow linebackers turn to a hot game in Baton Rouge
By Charles Goldberg
BATON ROUGE, La. ― Will Muschamp hasn't been afraid to play a lot of players, freshmen included, through the first two games of the season.
Can't say what all the talking heads are saying about that, but the weatherman seems to be suggesting Auburn's defensive coordinator might want to keep it up when the Tigers meet LSU at 2:30 in Tiger Stadium. Temperatures are expected in the lows 90s, but it will "feel like" 97 and 98 midway through the game, says weather.com.
"It's going to be hot in Baton Rouge on Saturday. It hasn't ever been cold there," Muschamp said this week.
"Hydrating at the cellular level is the new buzz word, right?" pondered LSU coach Les Miles.
Depth may play a factor in Auburn's SEC opener. Conditioning, too.
Muschamp's secondary is a bit thin, and most definitely young, but he and defensive line coach Rodney Garner have depth across the front. Muschamp says defensive linemen Maurice Swain and Devaroe Lawrence may see more time.
And, Muschamp said, "we’ve got to get more snaps out of Byron Cowart. We’ve got to get more snaps out of (Gimel) President. We need to get more guys playing up front. It’s going to be really important. It’s going to be a hot day and we’re going to be head butting these guys for 60 minutes. We have to be able to play more guys."
One way Auburn's defense can get relief is to be more effective on third-down plays. That's not a secret.
"The big focus for us is third downs," said coach Gus Malzahn "If we had gotten off the field a little bit better on third downs early in the game (last) Saturday and late in the game the Saturday before, we'd feel a lot better. Will is still learning his personnel. They're still learning the defense. You look out there, you count four and five true freshmen out there at one time."
LSU is 1-0 after seeing its first game postponed because of weather and then beating Mississippi State. Auburn is 2-0 after beating Louisville in regulation and Jacksonville State in overtime. The Tigers are also 20-2 in their last 22 SEC openers.
Malzahn says Auburn could have been better, but the most important thing is the Tigers are undefeated and the players are on track.
"You have to know the pulse of your team. You can't be too high and you can't be too low," Malzahn said. "We're playing a very good team and our players understand that. It's a conference opponent. It's the SEC opener. We'll be ready to play."
Charles Goldbeerg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine