Auburn football: Tigers trying to maintain regular routine during Thanksgiving week

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 24, 2013 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI Tight end C.J. Uzomah is pleased that classes are out this week, and believes the extra preparation will pay dividends when Saturday's game against Alabama arrives.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.c

AUBURN, Ala. — There are no cots to be found in the offices of Auburn’s coaches, Gus Malzahn assured Sunday night.

But make no mistake, the head coach said, he and the rest of his staff are working harder (and longer hours) than ever.

“The later it goes and the later in the season, you do everything in your power to help your team be successful,” he said. “Our coaches are very driven and we understand that we're going to have to do our best job and our players are going to have to do their best job, too.”

Just how driven is Malzahn?

“We could be playing a junior high team and I'm going to be very motivated,” he said.

To get a victory over the Crimson Tide, Malzahn admitted his team will have to be at its best. That’s why he was pleased the team had an open date last week to work on areas that needed fine-tuning after its narrow, 43-38 win over Georgia.

“It was a physical game, an emotional game,” he said. So (the bye week) gave our guys a chance to regroup. Also, too, we needed to clean up some things. It can't be forgotten that we had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter and it came down to the end.”

A creature of routine, Malzahn has had to make a slight alteration to this week’s practice schedule due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Normally an off day, the team will hit the field for session on Monday.

Not that the players mind.

They’re happy to have a week out of classes, giving them the opportunity to focus exclusively on football.

“I think it's good, not in terms of the practice itself, but in terms of our preparation before the practice — getting in, watching film on our own, being able to dissect and analyze what coverage they do out of what formation, etc. etc,” tight end C.J. Uzomah said.”I think in terms of preparation leading up to it will be huge, but in terms of practice itself it will be pretty similar.”

And it never hurts to take care of one other pesky distraction, the junior noted: fellow students.

“This is the best — not having class just being around each other, not hearing classmates, ‘Oh, well, this player went to my high school and like that’s cool,’” Uzomah said. “It’s good (being able to) Clear out your head from all that outside noise and really being focus on ourselves.”

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