Young QB Wants Happy Home Finish For Seniors

Comments from players and coaches are featured in this Auburn football report as the Tigers returned to the football practice field.

Auburn, Ala.--After taking Monday off the Auburn football Tigers worked out for two hours in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts putting in the game plan for Saturday's final home game of the season vs. Alabama A&M.

Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace said he thought the session was a good one. He said as he prepares for his third start it is a high priority for him to perform well and help his senior teammates have a good experience for their Senior Day contest on Saturday.

"It is very important, we owe it to those guys who have spent their years here and gave their all for Auburn," Wallace stated. "It is very important for us to go out there and perform for those guys and get the ball to those guys and let them have fun."

One of those seniors is Auburn's leading receiver, Emory Blake, the son of former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake. Wallace said he has a tremendous amount of respect for Blake, something that offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler also said after Tuesday night's practice.

Wallace noted that he has learned a lot of football from talking to Blake, who grew up around the game. Asked what the best piece of advice he has received from the wide receiver about being a quarterback, the freshman said, "Being a leader is one of the biggest things--running the show when I am out there. Even though I am young, you still have to run the show because the team is going to ride with whatever you do."

Asked about Tuesday night's workout, Wallace said, "Practice was pretty good tonight. We have to continue to hit it hard no matter who we are playing. We have to really keep the tempo high and keep pressing."

Asked about how he performed vs. Georgia in his first start vs. SEC competition, he said, "I think I did alright. I didn't do enough, I would say. Certain plays I think I should have hung in there a little longer and just made those little plays. Overall I think I did alright, not spectacular."

Loeffler, who doubles as Wallace's personal coach, said that he didn't like how the offense performed vs. Georgia, but did see good things from the quarterback. "He kept his poise when he got knocked around a few times. He was able to come back, keep fighting and not lose his competitive spirit. He plugged along and kept heading in he right direction."

The coach said it has been an "extremely difficult" season with the Tigers 2-8 with two games to play. "Auburn, myself and the Auburn people aren't used to going through something like this," he said. "I think it is discouraging. I?think it is hard for all of us."

Senior Day: Auburn's seniors will be honored in pre-game ceremonies on Saturday prior to the 1 p.m. kickoff. The group has a 32-18 record with two games remaining. In addition to winning the SEC and national championships in 2010, those Tigers were 3-0 in bowl games. The class includes Daren Bates, T'Sharvan Bell, DeAngelo Benton, Emory Blake, Jonathan Evans, Philip Lutzenkirchen, Onterio McCalebb, Ikeem Means, Anthony Morgan, Travante Stallworth, Ashton Richardson, John Sullen and Jamar Travis.

Missing Man: Richardson, a backup linebacker who plays on special teams, said he doubts he will be able to be at the game because of his interview schedule that runs Friday and Saturday with him being a candidate to become a Rhodes Scholar.

Ashton Richardson

Richardson, who has plans to go into vet medicine, said the interviews are a potentially life-changing event and has been working diligently to be prepared. He noted that he has been getting plenty of help from faculty members and others preparing him for the interviews he will face this weekend.

Richardson and his family lost most of their possessions when their home in New Orleans was flooded by eight feet of water, forcing them to relocate to Baton Rouge, where he attended his junior and senior years of high school.

Senior Says: Wide receiver Stallworth said after his team was shut out 38-0 by Georgia there is a sense of urgency to perform well vs. Alabama A&M. "It is going to be real big, coming off the loss we just had this week,"?he stated. "Everybody wants to go out there and just fight, and try to win this week."

Travante Stallworth

Stallworth, who has just six catches for 65 yards this season, said he doesn't know why his team has struggled. "I can't put my finger on it--I don't know," he said.

Commenting on his collegiate career, he called it a "bumpy road" after getting off to a good start as a freshman before being slowed by a knee injury.

"This year is not going so well, but I am just still happy I made it through my senior year," he said. "A lot of people I came in with are not here, but there is a tough group of guys here with me. We have stuck it out through everything."

Back In the Lineup: Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said after practice that junior Jake Holland will start at middle linebacker this week after missing the Georgia game with an ankle sprain. Freshman Cassanova McKinizy started in Holland's absence.

New Opponent: Saturday's game will not only be the first time the Tigers have played Alabama A&M in football, it is also the first time the Bulldogs have faced any SEC team. The Bulldogs, who have a 7-3 record, lost 35-21 last Saturday night at Jackson State. The Tigers and Bulldogs have not played any common opponents this year.

Top Dogs: Kaderius Lacey, a 6-0, 218 senior tailback, has rushed for 891 yards at 5.1 per carry this season for Alabama A&M. He is the school's all-time leading rusher. Last year he set a single season record with 1,143 yards.

Deaunte Mason, a 6-3, 209 senior quarterback, has completed 156-270 passes for 1,880 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions for the Bulldogs. His top receiver is Montauriu Smith, who has 45 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns.

PPV TV: Saturday's game is available on television on a pay-per-view basis across the state of Alabama. Those interested can contact their local cable provider or small dish provider for information on ordering the game. Andy Burcham will call the action with former Tiger quarterback Ben Leard as the analyst.

Radio Coverage: In addition to Auburn Network stations, Saturday's game can be picked up on Sirius Channel 112 and XM Channel 198.

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