By JOHN ZENOR
AP Sports Writer
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) - Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he has confidence in his assistants and that he feels "a very, very high sense of responsibility" to Tigers fans.
The Tigers (1-6, 0-5 Southeastern Conference) are off to their worst start in 60 years and have the nation's 119th-rated offense.
Chizik said his assistants will be evaluated at season's end, as usual.
"At the end of every year we go back and we evaluate everything that everybody does, just like we've done every year that I've been here," he said. "We've got five games left. Our one focus for the next five weeks is nothing but trying to win a game, and that's it. At the end of every year, just like we do, we go out and evaluate everybody as I get evaluated."
Auburn is coming off a 17-14 loss at Vanderbilt and hosts No. 22 Texas A&M Saturday to start a 4-game home stretch. Chizik was asked how rough the start has been on him.
"I don't ever really think of things for me on a personal level," he said. "I think about everybody around me. I think about the Auburn fans. I think about the players and coaches. I'm the head coach at Auburn, so it's really not about me. It's about everybody else and everybody else's expectations and things of that nature. I don't take that lightly. I feel a very, very high sense of responsibility. This is not where any of us wanted to be, but I also know that the only way you can continue to drive forward and forge forward is keep working at it.
"Our football team fought down to the end again, and they're going to continue to do that, just like the coaches are."
The troubles have compounded lately. Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen and right tackle Avery Young, who started the first three games, are out for the season. Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker also missed the Vandy game in what Chizik described as "a gametime decision."
"Hopefully, he can get enough progress made so that he can be back on the field Saturday," he said. "I know he's certainly tried to and looking forward to it.
Tailback Mike Blakely, linebacker Justin Garrett and safeties Erique Florence and Ryan Smith didn't make the trip. Chizik didn't offer details about their status against Texas A&M and he doesn't discuss the nature of injuries.
"We had a handful of guys that did not make the trip because of injury," he said. "Like everybody else, they're rehabbing and getting them to a place where they're healthy."
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