SAN JOSE -- Auburn's fight song, "War Eagle," blared through the speakers at Tuesday's practice as San Jose State prepared for the juggernaut Tigers and raucous Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

The Spartans can say all the right things about No. 5 Auburn (1-0), but it's clear the preparations are different for the defending SEC champions and national runners-up.

Only three San Jose State players have been in a game with a bigger crowd than the 87,000-plus that will pack the stands Saturday. Seniors Vince Buhagiar and Foloi Vae and junior Cedric Lousi played in the 2010 game at Alabama, won by the Crimson Tide 48-3. For the rest, this is a brand new experience.

"We know the environment's going to be a lot different than what we've played in," sophomore wide receiver Tyler Winston said. "But this is the environment you dream of playing in growing up, in front of all these people."

To help avoid that dream quickly turning into a nightmare, the 31-point underdog Spartans had the speakers going throughout their team drills Tuesday. For most of the offensive work, two large speakers blared from about 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

Music during practice used to be a regular thing when former coach Mike MacIntyre was in charge, but Ron Caragher prefers to limit music to stretching and individual periods. But this week is different and he spent parts of practice playing conductor, ordering the music on and off.


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"Whether it's the 'War Eagle' or the crowd or their players and they're scoring points, we've got to block out all those distractions and continue to play the way we always play," offensive coordinator Jimmie Dougherty said.

The Spartans are partially helped because they don't huddle on offense and use hand signals to relay the plays from the sideline. But communication between the quarterback and the offensive linemen still is required and is the biggest concern this week.

  • The most encouraging aspect of the season-opening win over North Dakota was the five touchdowns in five red zone trips. It was a point of emphasis after last season when SJSU scored touchdowns on just half (22 of 44) of its trips inside the 20.

    Those numbers last year were boosted significantly by a late-season surge that saw the Spartans score touchdowns on 10 of 12 red zone trips in the final two games. It seems the play-caller Dougherty has carried that hot hand into this season.

    "Toward the end of the year we knew who we were," Dougherty said. "We knew our identity and that hasn't changed. A lot of the cast of guys are the same. It's a different quarterback, but we're running our system and we know the playmakers around the quarterback."

  • Tyler Ervin was one of six players who shared Punt Returner Performer of the Week honors from College Football Performance Awards. He returned two punts for 73 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown. Quarterback Blake Jurich was one of three honorable mention selections for Quarterback Performer of the Week from CFPA after his 22-of-25, 250-yard, three-touchdown performance.

    For more San Jose State coverage, visit the SpartanCentral blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/sjsu. Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.

    Saturday's game
    San Jose State (1-0) at Auburn (1-0), 4 p.m. ESPN2