Tigers Focused On Slowing Tide's Running Game

Auburn defensive linemen Nosa Eguae, Jeff Whitaker and Angelo Blackson talk about the challenge of slowing down Alabama's running game.

Auburn, Ala.—A defense struggling against the running game meets one of the most successful ground attacks in college football this Saturday when the Auburn Tigers (3-8) take on No. 2 ranked Alabama (10-1) at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Averaging 38.1 points and 209.4 yards per game on the ground, Alabama's offense is one that physically challenges the defense. That is something junior Nosa Eguae said makes him excited as a defensive lineman.

"We're all looking forward to it up front," Eguae said. "That is definitely going to be our challenge every single week no matter who we play. We're watching the run game and we'll try to do whatever it takes to stop them."

Led by senior center Barrett Jones and fellow guard Chance Warmack, Alabama's offensive line and running back tandem of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon will be a major challenge for an Auburn defense allowing 191.3 yards per game on the ground this season.

Angelo Blackson is one of the defensive linemen who will be counted on against the Crimson Tide ground game.

While the season numbers have been bad enough for the Tigers, the last four SEC games have seen Auburn's defensive stats tumble even more. Allowing more than 200 rushing yards in four consecutive SEC games and 12 touchdowns on the ground in those outings, junior Jeffrey Whitaker said even though they are up against the wall the defense is going to come out swinging.

"You've got a good offensive line," Whitaker said. "Womack is the best guard in the SEC. If you're the best in the SEC, you're going to be up there with the best in the country. We understand that. At the end of the day, I'm not bagging on them. They're talented individuals.

"The last I checked, we play in the SEC. You get these kinds of guys all the time. As a whole they've got a very good and talented offensive line. We know it's going to be a challenge, but we don't back away from challenges. We're going to come out there with a come-at-you mentality."

Trying to slow the running game and make quarterback A.J. McCarron beat them is obviously the plan for the Tigers. With a combined 1,679 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground, Lacy and Yeldon won't be easy to slow down, but Angelo Blackson said that's what has to be done to get a win.

"It's very physical," Blackson said of Alabama's offense. "They're a run the ball first team so if we stop their run, or we're able to slow down their run game, it gives us a better chance at winning the game. We've just got to play in our gaps and penetrate."

Trying to salvage a win that would help to heal some wounds from a terrible 2012 season is the goal for Auburn, but it's not the only thing in play this weekend. With Alabama still very much in play for a potential BCS Championship Game berth, the Tigers could play a spoiler to their biggest rival. Eguae said the goal is winning no matter the circumstances and they're going to work hard to make that happen.

"It's going to take preparation on that practice field, doing it every single day getting ready for Saturday," Eguae said. "We know what's at stake Saturday. It's a big game for us. We're trying to make sure these seniors don't leave with a sour taste in their mouth, but they leave with a victory."

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