Tape It Up: Auburn Vs. LSU: The Maligned and The Mystery

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Auburn Vs. LSU: The Maligned and The Mystery

A pair of big cats have a lot riding on Saturday's coveted SEC matchup between the Tigers of LSU and the Tigers of Auburn, but while Auburn is pleased to report that its previously maligned players are back and contributing in practices this week, LSU is keeping mum on the status of wide receiver Early Doucet, who rose from the injured for one play last week, only to return to obscurity this week.

For the Auburn Tigers, the defense should be rejuvenated when the team takes the field on Saturday. Linebacker Merrill Johnson, defensive end Quentin Groves and defensive back Aairon Savage all practiced this week and are likely to return to the defensive rotation on Saturday, which spells brilliance for a defense already ranked No. 9 in the nation.

Groves' dislocated toes have kept him off the field for two games, and he is certainly an on-field presence Auburn would like to have back against the likes of LSU. Through five games, Groves was responsible for 22 tackles, two sacks, 18 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble, but head coach Tommy Tuberville said he is in no rush to push the senior back onto the field, given the production the Tigers have gotten out of his replacements, Antonio Coleman (18 tackles, 4 sacks, 13 QB hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery) and Antoine Carter (10 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 QB hurries).

Johnson's shoulder injury had kept him out of four games this season. He got one play in last week but should see more time on Saturday, granted his progress continues. Savage is out with a twisted knee, and is also close to returning this week.

Offensive lineman Ryan Pugh missed practice on Tuesday with a sore ankle he suffered against Arkansas, but was scheduled to practice later in the week.

Deep In Mystery
For the LSU Tigers, the injury prognosis is a lot hazier. Wide receiver Early Doucet injured his groin muscle in a non-contact moment in practice earlier this season, and very little information was dispensed regarding his status, until he took the field for a single play last Saturday. Doucet lined up on a third-and-four play in the third overtime of last week's loss to Kentucky, running a pass route on a Jacob Hester run play. Then he faded back into obscurity.

We know that Doucet practiced on Tuesday during a closed workout session and was kept out of interview sessions. Head coach Les Miles said that Doucet is "getting healthier," but revealed no details about the senior's status, and certainly would not let the senior reveal anything himself.

Having Doucet on the field this week just may give the Tigers the boost they need to outplay the Tigers of Auburn. Described by teammates as "a stud" and the team's "go-to-guy," Doucet caught 59 passes last year for 772 yards and eight TDs. In two games this season, he caught 15 passes for 153 yards and two scores. LSU could sure use some of that production on Saturday, especially since no other receiver this season has matched Doucet's two-game total of 15 catches, and the Tigers had more than their fair share of drops last week.

Quarterback Matt Flynn agreed: "Obviously when we don't have him out there we're not at our full potential."

This week is an excellent time for the Tigers' full potential to manifest itself, since simply put, LSU cannot afford to lose another game. Especially not this one.

Whether or not Doucet gets into Saturday's game will likely not be answered until Saturday, when he either trots onto the field or remains on the sideline. And for LSU's sake, the offense is praying that there is plenty of trotting in Doucet's immediate future.

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