November 26, 2009

AU won't be intimidated by No. 2 Bama

The numbers are intimidating enough.

Alabama's defense is ranked No. 1 nationally giving up just 225.0 yards per game. It's ranked No. 2 nationally in scoring defense (9.9 ppg) and rushing defense (70.4 ypg). Alabama hasn't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 31 games, which is the longest streak in the nation.

The Tide defense is stacked with All-Americans and All-SEC standouts including massive noseguard Terrence Cody, middle linebacker Rolando McClain and cornerback Javier Arenas.

It's by far the toughest challenge Auburn's offense has faced this season and the AU coaches and players have spent the two weeks leading up to Friday's Iron Bowl praising the Tide defense.

But they're not intimidated. Far from it.

"Obviously nobody's beaten them and nobody's put a lot of yards on them so they're pretty good at what they do so I'm giving them a ton of credit. But we're not going to be intimidated by anybody," AU offensive line coach Jeff Grimes said.

It will be Grimes' offensive line that will have to set the tone for Auburn. Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn has insisted all week that Auburn must be balanced between the run and pass to be successful.

And it's up to the o-line to open up those running lanes and give quarterback Chris Todd time to pass.

"If we're one-dimensional against a defense like this, it's going to be tough," Malzahn said. "We've got to protect the football and not put ourselves in any bad situations. We're going to do our best on that. Bottom line is get first downs, protect the football and try to put points on the board."

Job one for Auburn's offense will be controlling Cody, which is easier said than done against the 6-foot-5, 354 pound anchor of the Tide's 3-4 defense.

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