Coach Jeff Graba

Coach Jeff Graba is looking at the remaining schedule as a 'five-meet season'

After an unexpected bye week, the Auburn gymnastics team will be taking on the Tigers of LSU this Friday. 

The meet, originally set for last Friday, was postponed due to Covid-19 protocols from the LSU program. It will be the toughest meet yet for Auburn, which is ranked No. 22 in the country, as they prepare to face the No. 2 team in the land. 

“We are moving in the right direction,” said head coach Jeff Graba. “Every weekend, it'll be a tough match-up. We’ve faced nothing but top-10 teams so this is nothing new.”

Graba usually likes to take the first half of the season, especially during January, to evaluate his team. That was his same plan going into this year, but his plan got derailed quickly.

“Typically, I like to have four meets to let the younger ones figure out where they are at, but I couldn’t do that this year,” he said. “Early on, we were down 40 percent of our starting lineup so that really threw our young ones in the fire and we were asking them to do some things they weren’t supposed to be ready for until next year.”

Despite the setback, Graba thinks that the bye week has given his team the chance to heal, and that some depth has developed among his team. 

All eyes are on Friday now, as the team prepares to try to upset LSU. Although many things are unpredictable, Graba said that one thing was certain to him.

“One of the predictable things is LSU," he said. "We know they want to go because they want that No. 1 spot from Florida.”

When Auburn takes on LSU, it will do so from the comfort of its own home in Auburn Arena, where they have not been since they took on Florida in the season-opener on Jan. 8.

“If we are smart, being home will work for us,” said Graba. “Being at home always helps out.”

When asked about how he saw his team progressing forward, Graba emphasized that the rest of the season will be like a completely new one in the minds of him and his gymnasts. 

“By default, I think it has to be a restart,” said Graba. “We are looking at this as a five-meet season. Our goal is to start strong now and build on that this second half of the season.”

That strong start will hang in the balance this Friday at 6 p.m. when the Tigers host LSU in the Auburn Arena. The meet will be carried on the SEC Network.

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