Football's 'sound of silence'

Despite being a senior and one of the smarter players on the team, Triandos Luke didn't have the answer. What's up with the home team losing recent Alabama/Auburn match-ups? <br><br>"I have no idea," he replied, shaking his head.

"It seems like it would be the opposite. I guess the teams just get overconfident."

That might explain the two most recent games. In 2001 (Luke's sophomore year), Alabama was struggling just to finish with a winning record. On the other hand, Auburn came into the contest on a roll, looking to seize the upper hand in the series.

Result: Alabama embarrassed Auburn in front of their home fans, 31-7.

Last year it was essentially the opposite. The Tide entered the game ranked in the Top 10, while the Tigers had struggled to move the ball consistently. Plus, Auburn's top two tailbacks were out with injury.

Once again Triandos Luke is Bama's leading receiver, catching 31 passes this season for 423 yards, leading the Tide in both categories. (Barry Fikes photo)

Result: Auburn jumped on the home-standing Tide early and hung on for a 17-7 win.

"It seems like we were on a high last year, and it seems like they were on a high two years ago," Luke said. "I don't know if you get the big head or whatever... I don't know."

This year Auburn is favored, despite the fact that many Tiger fans are calling for head coach Tommy Tuberville's head. Certainly a more talented team than the injury-riddled Bama squad, Auburn hopes the partisan Jordan-Hare Stadium crowd will pull it through to victory.

But according to Luke, there's nothing an athlete likes more than to silence hostile fans in their home stadium.

"There's nothing like it; it's a great feeling," Luke said. "To go into that stadium and hear the fans booing and saying bad things about you..."

Luke paused for a moment, chuckling at what is obviously a fond memory. "It's a great feeling to silence that crowd."

Don't get him wrong. Like the rest of Alabama's players Triandos Luke absolutely loves to play at home in front of Crimson Tide fans. But he acknowledged that traveling into a hostile environment can definitely focus the mind.

"It's different on the road," Luke explained. "I love our home crowd and everything that goes along with it. But I think when you go away, you have a lot more focus on what you're going to do."

Growing up in Phenix City, scant miles from the Auburn campus, Luke has seen his share of partisan bickering between Tide and Tiger fans. "The anger part is probably overblown," he admitted, "but that's how it is. That's how intense this rivalry is. There's just a great deal of competitiveness in this game."

Triandos' middle brother, Nic, plays special teams for Alabama. But younger brother Kelcy signed with Auburn last February, after considering the Tide. Plus, Luke played against many of the current Tiger athletes in high school.

"I wouldn't say the hatred involves the players," he said. "I've got a lot of friends down there. When we get on the field it's a battle, but we're friends afterwards. Of course I wouldn't say that about the fans."

Luke (#84) and Dre Fulgham (#3) celebrate following a touchdown. If Bama hopes to win Saturday, the two seniors need to play well. (AP photo)

"They probably really don't like each other," he added laughing.

Kelcy Luke was signed as a quarterback, but if he plays at Auburn, it'll likely be in the secondary. Can fans expect a few brotherly battles this Saturday?

"He's going to dress for the game," Triandos replied. "Hopefully I'll see him during warm-ups and pick on him a little bit. But I won't get a shot at him during the game. I've never really played against him in a game. Just backyard football and pass skel in practice back in high school."

It's been a tough season for Alabama, and seniors like Luke have felt it the worst. But he says the Tide isn't done yet.

"It would definitely be nice to finish on a high note. This team has been through a lot. A win versus Auburn would be big for The University.

"Then go out to Hawaii and get another victory."

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