White Knocking The Rust Off At Linebacker

Auburn's Jawara White is excited about being able to help his team on defense.

Auburn, Ala.—While last Saturday's win over Utah State wasn't one of celebration for the Auburn Tigers, for one of the players that took part in the victory it was a time of thanks. Redshirt freshman Jawara White has been hoping to get on the field for the Tigers since he arrived on the Plains, but a neck injury forced him to sit out all of last season and put his career in jeopardy. All that was forgotten last weekend when he took the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time in game action.

"It felt good," White said. "It was a sigh of relief. It felt real good."

Finishing the game with just one tackle on limited action, it was a huge step in the right direction for White. With so many questions about his career just a few months ago he said he didn't really think about it at all during the game because his mind was on doing his job.

"It was moving too fast," White said. "It was hit and run when I got out there. It was moving way to fast to be thinking. After the first one or two plays it slowed down instantly after that.

"I'm very comfortable now knowing that I'm fine and healthy and can contribute," White added. "It's good just knowing I can help out."

Even though he had just on stop it came on the game's biggest hit as he finished off a Utah State receiver with a boom. It was an important play for him because he said he didn't even flinch and because it also showed people he was back.

"It just felt good," White said. "It showed everybody I was fine I guess."

One of several defensive players seeing action for the first time White said the transition for him from practice to the game has been made much easier by his position coach and Auburn's defensive coordinator Ted Roof. White noted that his knowledge of the defense helped him feel at home on the field.

"Coach Roof is a great coach," White said. "By the second play I wasn't thinking I was just doing it. He had me to the point where I was just reacting to what I got. Him coaching us that well was just amazing that by the second play I wasn't thinking I was just reacting."

White and the rest of Auburn's linebackers will have to step up their play dramatically this weekend as Mississippi State's powerful running game and play-action comes to town ready to knock off the defending BCS National Champions. After struggling to stop the run last weekend the Tigers have been working hard this week in practice to shore up some of the problems. White said it's pretty simple when you break it down, Auburn needs to do one simple thing.

"Be physical," White said. "Just being physical and stopping the run.

"They punch you in the mouth basically," he added. "You just have to be physical."

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