Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tuesday notebook

Over his first three years at Auburn, Bart Eddins had futilely attempted to overcome knee injuries.

He had undergone three knee surgeries going into the season, trying to work through what surgeon James Andrews called “a weird knee.”

Saturday at Tennessee, Eddins got his first start, subbing for suspended RG Byron Isom.

“I thought my run game was pretty good,” Eddins said Sunday. “There’s always stuff you can work on, the little detail things. Pass game – I’d say pass and run were average. I need to work on some smaller things. I’d say around a C.”

Auburn coach Gene Chizik said Sunday he was “really proud” of Eddins’ performance.

“He came in there and played and just really proud that he was able to step up and help our football team win and that's what he did,” Chizik said.

It’s not yet clear whether Eddins will start Saturday when No. 17 Auburn plays at Arkansas.

Eddins started the most recent game, but true freshman John Sullen started the previous game, against Ball State.

There’s also a possibility Isom could return for the game. Chizik has remained mum on Isom’s suspension, leaving it as an undefined length.

TE Tommy Trott said Tuesday he wasn’t sure what he was allowed to say about the practice situation and who got the majority of first-team snaps.

LOOKING FOR MORE: Auburn had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns three times inside the red zone last week against Tennessee.

On two of those chances, the Tigers offense stalled inside the UT 5-yard line.

That, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said, has been addressed early during Auburn’s practice week.

“I think it’s what you focus on and we need to work that much harder,” Malzahn said. “We had a couple opportunities and we’re very fortunate our defense was playing extremely well. We’ve got to find a way to score touchdowns. It was great to get some points, our kicker did a wonderful job, but as an offense we’ve got to find a way to score touchdowns when our defense gives us opportunities.”

Though Auburn settled for field goals three times inside the red zone, it still scored on all five possessions inside the UT 20. The Tigers are also tied for 10th in the nation with their 95 percent red-zone success rate. Last year Auburn finished last in the nation, scoring on just 57 percent of its red-zone chances.

GEARING UP: The Auburn secondary knows it will have its hands full Saturday against Ryan Mallett and the Arkansas offense.

The pass rush views the contest equally as challenging. DE Michael Goggans said Tuesday that the defensive line’s ability to put pressure on Mallett could determine the defense’s success.

“It’s going to be very crucial,” Goggans said. “We’re just going to have to get a lot of pressure to keep the DBs safe back there. We can’t just let them have every day to throw. He’s got a good arm and we can’t just leave our DBs out to dry. So pass rush is going to be a big key.”

Goggans also said he thought the pass rush played well last week despite failing to sack UT QB Jonathan Crompton on his 43 pass attempts. The Tigers did get five quarterback pressures, but will need a much stronger effort to keep the Razorbacks offense honest.

JUST SCORE ALREADY: Most tailbacks pride themselves on moving the chains and slowly winding the clock.

Not Auburn’s Ben Tate.

The senior wants to maintain the breakneck pace Malzahn prefers regardless of what it does to time of possession.

“I don’t think all that really matters as long as you’re scoring points,” Tate said. “Time of possession doesn’t really matter. The only time it really matters is when it comes down to the game and you’re trying to seal the game. When you have four minutes left, what we call our prime time, when there’s four minutes left in the game and you’re trying to hold onto the ball and just get first downs.”

Tate rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown during Auburn’s 26-22 win over Tennessee last Saturday. His effort helped the Tigers own a nearly 10-minute advantage in time of possession.

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