Nov. 25, 2013
Corey Grant, from Opelika to Alabama to a force in Auburn's running game (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – They do not live in a vacuum. They know there is much at stake in this season’s Iron Bowl.
"There’s going to be some talk like ‘well if we do this, then this could happen.’ We’ll say that in the locker room," said receiver C.J. Uzomah.
Coach Gus Malzahn doesn’t want to hear it.
"He’ll just put it to bed and put it to rest and get in our minds that we can’t think like that because this is a great team that we’re going to play," Uzomah said.
And so it is that Malzahn is sticking with the routine that helped Auburn to a 10-1 record and into a national showdown with 11-0 Alabama in Jordan-Hare Stadium at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. It’s No. 1 Alabama versus No. 4 Auburn with the SEC West title, and who knows what else, on the line.
The last four BCS championships have been won by either Auburn or Alabama.
But Uzomah and Auburn players are trying to stay low key, or as low key as possible.
"Coach Malzahn and his entire staff is saying, 'Don't feed into the magnitude of this game and what everyone is trying to bring into this game with the publicity and all that,'" Uzomah said. "He's kind of saying, 'Just take a deep breath. Relax. We're going to play our game.'"
Auburn defensive lineman Nosa Eguae has gotten the message.
"We pride ourselves on the process. We pride ourselves on Tuesday and Wednesday practices. We pride ourselves on the little things ," Eguae said. "Our coaches, they harp on it, and as the weeks gone on, we’ve progressively gotten better on the little things. That’s what we’re focusing on. We’re focusing on tomorrow’s practice, making sure we’re out there having a great one."
Auburn is No. 2 in the SEC in total offense. Alabama is tops in total defense. Eguae is looking for a big performance from his defense, too.
"We don’t think we’ve played our best game. We know that game is still out there for us," Eguae said. "The big part of it, playing in as many games as I have played in and also a lot of other guys, we know it’s the process and it’s the leading up. When you’re on the field and the juices are flowing then all that is going to take care of itself. It comes down to the process and what you’re going to do to prepare to win games."
The player with real insight of the Iron Bowl is Corey Grant. He was once at Alabama.
"Their guys are excited, we're excited; they know it's a big game and we know that, too, so I think it's going to be a great game," Grant said.
Auburn had no problems complimenting Alabama players Sunday. There would be no bulletin board material.
Eguae said Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon "is a great player."
"He’s the type of back that franchises love. For us we’re going to have to go out there and gang tackle him. We’re going to have to get to the football and cause destruction when we get there."
He said Alabama’s offense, in general, has "great players."
"The offensive line, they’ve played quite a bit of ball. The quarterback, he’s proven. He’s a leader for those guys. Their skill position players are great.
"They have a great offense. We’ve just got to continue to work, continue to watch the film and continue to do the type of things that are going to help us win a football game."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine