What is the mood of the team like after starting 7-0 and losing two in a row?
The mood seemed very somber earlier this week, but the Tigers seem to have picked it up and had some very good practices. They look like they may have refocused their attention to playing one game at a time, which is the attitude that led them to the 7-0 record. I think the Nebraska loss took a lot out of them and the Texas Tech loss was a bit of a wake-up call.
There was a lot of talk that Coach Pinkel should have substituted freshman QB James Franklin for Blaine Gabbert when he struggled against Tech. Is it possible we could see that happen this week?
Barring injury, I doubt you see that happen. Coach Pinkel is standing behind Gabbert and showed no signs that he ever considered a substitution.
With Saturday being Senior Day, what Tiger senior will be most missed next year?
I think Tiger Center Tim Barnes will be the hardest player to replace in 2011. Barnes has been the anchor of the offensive line this season and has really put together a nice career. The Tigers do not have a true center lined up to replace him–I think Justin Britt might play center next year.
With the Tigers having trouble against the run recently, how difficult will it be to face a player like Daniel Thomas?
It will be a challenge for them. All of the players I spoke with this week acknowledged the problems with the run defense and how it has led to them being on the field more than they would like. They also had high praise for Thomas, who will likely play on Sundays in the future. The Tigers basically said that they need to buckle down and play physical and stick to fundamentals of tackling against him.
Who needs to step up for the Tigers to return to their winning ways?
Despite the defensive lapses in the two Tiger losses, the offense has had issues converting on 3rd downs, completing vertical passes, and finishing in red zone situations. The Tigers are yet to face an insurmountable lead this season. The offense just hasn