AUBURN, Ala. -- Rain forced Auburn to have a split-squad practice indoors Tuesday. Considering Saturday’s SEC championship game will be played in the Georgia Dome, the Tigers didn’t mind altering their plans.
“It was pretty good for us,” offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said. “That’s a loud place we’re fixing to play. We turned on some music, some noise. Our guys really focused well. I think back to last Tuesday’s practice. This one was quite a bit better.”
Auburn didn’t go in full pads Tuesday, practicing in shells.
They were limited by the John H. Watson Fieldhouse, which is only half an indoor field. But it gave the Tigers a chance to practice on a turf similar to that of the Georgia Dome.
Auburn has played only one game on artificial turf this year, winning 51-31 Oct. 30 at Missississippi.
“Our guys will have to get used to the footing,” Malzahn said. “All the turfs are different, too.”
“It’s different the way it makes you run, it makes you feel and your feet work with it,” running back Mike Dyer said.
Malzahn’s name already has been floated as a possibility for several head coaching vacancies.
“The only thing I’m focused on is this game and trying to do the best job I can to help our team,” he said. “I don’t pay much attention to it. I guess it would be a little flattering that your name is out there, but I don’t get caught up in that.”
Malzahn should be a hot coaching commodity this offseason. He is one of five finalists for the Frank Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach.
“Any time you’re up for an award like that, you think about the Curtis Lupers, the Trooper Taylors, the Jeff Grimeses, the Jay Boulwares. It’s a team deal here. I’m flattered to be considered.”
Head coach Gene Chizik approached Nick Fairley with a request before the Alabama game, after Georgia submitted concerns to the SEC office about the defensive tackle’s questionable hits two weeks earlier.
“He said tone it down a little bit,” Fairley said. “It’s all right. I’ve just got to calm down a little more.”
Fairley did for the most part, although he was flagged for a borderline unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after celebrating a first-quarter sack of Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy. He said the flag shocked him, but he took the blame for it.
“It’s my fault,” he said. “It’s never the referee’s fault. I probably overreacted just a little bit. So understandable. You can’t fault him for that.”
A closer look
After Quindarius Carr fumbled a punt at a crucial moment of the third quarter against Alabama, Chizik said Auburn will re-evaluate its punt returning situation.
Carr has had problems fielding punts this year. He lost one against Mississippi State. Then against Tennessee-Chattanooga on Nov. 6, he muffed a catch but managed to recover it. He has returned all but two punts this season but is averaging 5.7 yards per return.
On the big screen
Auburn will broadcast the SEC championship game on the high-definition video boards at the Auburn Arena following Saturday’s women’s basketball game against Temple. Admission is free after halftime of the basketball game. The women’s game starts at 2 p.m. Kickoff for the SEC title game is 4 p.m.