UTC enters the game after a painful 49–35 loss to Elon, in which the Mocs threw six interceptions.
Coach Russ Huesman said avoiding injuries is first priority.
“No matter whether we’re playing Auburn or Elon or Georgia Southern, we can’t afford injuries, and I don’t think this will be any different,” Huesman said. “We came out of Alabama last year healthy. Nobody was banged up, and I anticipate coming out of this one the same way.”
Though Auburn has won its last 18 consecutive Homecoming games, coach Gene Chizik said his team will stick to its philosophy of taking the season game by game.
“I don’t care if we’re ranked one or 10 or eight,” Chizik said. “We have three regular-season games left. If we lose one of the three, then it’s going to be tough to proceed and do all of the things that everybody is talking about every week on TV. The only thing that we do is talk about what we can do this week, and then we’ll do the same next week.”
Chizik said UTC will present a challenge for the Auburn defense because of its ability to switch between one and two backs in its rushing attack, as well as other weapons.
“They have great ideas at quarterback,” Chizik said. “They throw a lot of quick routes out there when you give it to them. They throw the ball and stretch it vertically down the field when you give that to them.
“There’s a great mixture of what they’re trying to do offensively.”
Newton said he agrees with Chizik’s attitude toward the game, despite increasing national exposure.
The quarterback continues to brush off questions regarding NFL aspirations, choosing instead to focus on the week ahead.
“We have a chance right now to seize the moment, and we can’t have those types of selfish thoughts to run through our mind because it can be contagious and we don’t want that around here,” Newton said. “There’s a time and a place for everything. I’m not sitting up here and giving you a definite decision on how I’m feeling right now. How I’m feeling right now is Tennessee-Chattanooga and trying to dissect their game plan with Coach (Gus) Malzahn.”
Leading Newton’s rushing attack is the Auburn offensive line, which Chizik described as what “makes it go.” Chizik singled out the line’s physicality as a team weakness after Auburn’s 27–24 win over Clemson.
Since then, senior guard Mike Berry and the three other senior linemen have helped the Auburn offense produce an average of 352 rushing yards per game.
“He (Chizik) knew we had the potential to be one of the best offensive lines out there,” Berry said. “He just called us out that we had the potential to be even greater. We stepped up to the challenge and put it on our backs.”
Injuries on offense have also become prevalent as the season has progressed. Sophomore tight end Phillip Lutzenkirchen suffered an undisclosed injury in Saturday’s game against Ole Miss, while freshman wide receiver Shaun Kitchens hurt his knee earlier in the season.
“(Kitchens has) got to continue to work on his game,” Chizik said. “He’s got a ways to go, but we’ll continue to work with him. It’s Week 10, so there are some bumps and bruises. We’ll have a better idea where everybody stands later in the week.”
Auburn vs. Chattanooga kicks off at noon Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.