Tigers arrive at Georgia Dome, start prepping for Cavaliers
by Charles Bennett
cbennett@annistonstar.com
Dec 27, 2011 | 4466 views |  0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — Auburn practiced for the first time in the Georgia Dome on Monday in preparation for Saturday night’s Chick-fil-A Bowl game with Virginia, and the Tigers are hoping that by the end of the week, the Dome will feel like home.

“It’s good,” said Auburn coach Gene Chizik when asked about the fact that all of the Tigers’ practices this week will be held in the Georgia Dome.

“We don’t play on this (artificial) surface much so it’s good for us to be on this surface. We have it back at home, but again, if we’re not playing on it we don’t practice on it a lot, unless the weather dictates we do.”

Chizik said there’s an adjustment period in domed stadiums, in particular for the kicking game.

“I think it’s good to get used to the lights,” he said. “It’s good for the kick returners, the punt returners, just the lighting in the dome and getting a feel for where we are on the field. Just getting familiar with the surroundings is a good thing.”

If anything, practicing in the Georgia Dome should spark fond memories for Chizik and the Auburn players who were on last year’s team.

Auburn trounced South Carolina 56-17 in the SEC Championship in the Georgia Dome, setting the stage for the Tigers’ BCS title game victory over Oregon.

“I was actually focused on practice, but it was a great memory,” Chizik said of last season’s SEC title game. “The last time we were here it was a lot of fun. Like I said, it was a great day for Auburn. But for the most part, I was focused on practice.”

Not everyone remembers last season’s game in the Georgia Dome. Chizik said the Tigers’ roster has approximately 40 players who weren’t on the team last year.

“I looked around the room last night and we’ve got about 40 guys who have never done this before,” he said. “It was good for them to be here on site.”

It was Auburn’s first practice since breaking for Christmas on Wednesday and the Tigers’ first away from Auburn.

The team arrived in Atlanta Sunday night.

“It was good to get back out here,” said Auburn quarterback Clint Moseley. “Being in the dome helps out a lot with our energy. It just kind of makes practice more fun. It was good to get back in the swing of things. It kind of helped us refocus on why we’re really here. It was a pretty good day.”

 Moseley said he also likes the fact that all the practices this week will be in the Georgia Dome.

“It’s something that’s helpful to practice here all week, to get used to it,” he said. “But more than that, it’s just a good experience to be in the dome that many times. It’s something you can tell your kids and everything. It’s a very good experience for all of us.”

Obviously, the Tigers would rather be preparing for the BCS title game, but with that out of reach, there’s something to be said for shorter preparation time.

Last year season, Auburn didn’t play until Jan. 10.

“Last year was kind of a grind,” said Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. “I think it was five weeks off, and just kind of stretching out practices so we stay in shape. I think most of the guys like it better this way, we can just play the game and get a little bit of time off before school starts back up.”

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