AUBURN — The 19th-ranked Auburn football team spent 75 minutes practicing inside the new indoor facility Thursday as the Tigers moved one step closer to Saturday's season opener against Utah State.
Auburn touched on all phases, going through offensive and defensive situational drills and special teams work.
At his Tuesday media conference this week, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said the Tigers were have been preparing for a Utah State team that returns 10 starters on offense and six on defense from last season.
"We're really looking forward to a great opening challenge with Utah State and the challenges that they pose," Chizik said. "This is (head coach) Gary (Andersen)'s third year. He's done a really nice job building the program just the way he wants it. Offensively, they have a lot of returning starters. It's going to be a challenge for our defense. Everything starts with the offensive line, as we know. They have some veteran guys up front, which will be challenging for our young defensive line, as we know. It'll be a good first challenge for us."
Auburn goes into the season opener with 22 freshmen listed on the three-deep depth chart. Chizik noted the freshmen have earned their spot on the depth chart and will be counted on in virtually any situation on game day.
"The plan is to really play the guys who we think deserve to play, whether it be early in the game or late in the game, whatever the situation calls for, the guys that have worked hard enough and deserve to play and have really earned our trust to play, we're going to put them in whenever we feel like the situation is right," Chizik said. "We're not holding anything back. You're going to see them on the opening kickoff, you're going to see them on the opening kickoff return, depending on which one we do, you're going to see them throughout the offense and the defense."
The Tigers will open the 2011 season Sept. 3 vs. Utah State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN2 with kickoff set for 11 a.m. CT.
Auburn has a 91-25-2 record in season-opening games. Auburn has won 20 of its last 25 openers, including a current streak of four straight wins. The Tigers are one of two teams in the FBS to return a pair of running backs who eclipsed 800 yards last season. Michael Dyer set an AU freshman record by rushing for 1093 yards last season, while Onterio McCalebb rushed for 810 yards in 2010.