Blake Countess (above) has become a major contributor for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--In the offseason Auburn Tigers received an addition to the roster when Michigan graduate transfer Blake Countess decided to play his final season of college football for the Tigers. The cornerback was expected to add quality depth in the secondary to a team that was considered favorites to win the SEC and compete for a national championship in the preseason.
Now, 10 games through the season, the Tigers sit at last in the SEC West with a 5-5 (2-5) record and only two home games remaining on the schedule. The season has not turned out as many Auburn fans, players and coaches probably would have hoped.
“Being in college football I’ve been through ups and downs, and I was on some pretty good teams at Michigan,” Countess said after Auburn’s 20-13 loss to Georgia. “It comes with it. What you have to do is focus on you, focus on your team and how you can help change some things.”
One of the bright sports, however, has been Countess. The cornerback turned safety has been ever present in the Tiger secondary doing whatever is asked of him and leading by example. Although the season hasn’t gone according to plan, Countess wants to help lead the team to a couple of victories and a bowl game before his time on the Plains is up.
“We’re still fighting,” he said. “As a defense you’ve got to go back and watch the film and see where we could have made some plays on the ball. We have two guaranteed opportunities left and we have to make the most of those.”
Countess stressed after the game that the one aspect Auburn’s defense didn’t do well in was creating takeaways. Saturday’s game was the first one since the meeting with LSU earlier in the season that the Tigers did not force a turnover.
“The goal is three turnovers a game,” explained Countess, “and we did that last week (against Texas A&M) and we won. We didn’t do that this week. We didn’t win. The ball was on the ground quite a few times today, and we did not capitalize on that.”
Countess finished the day with seven total tackles from the safety spot. He played alongside first-time starter Stephen Roberts, who had seven tackles as well.
“Steve is a guy that has stepped up,” noted Countess. “He wasn’t playing much towards the beginning of the season, but he got an opportunity. When he got his opportunity he really showed up, and that is what it’s all about. He has done a good job.”
Countess said that Roberts found out late in the week he would start when Tray Matthews was still struggling to get over an ankle injury. “In practice we had a rotation going and I don’t think the guys knew who that other safety was going to be, but they prepared like starters, Countess said.”
Countess, on the other hand, is a known commodity and a solid leader for this struggling Auburn squad. He and the Tigers will try to achieve their sixth win of the year and gain bowl eligibility win they play host to the Idaho Vandals (3-6) of the Sun Belt Conference. The game will kickoff at 3 p.m. CST and will be televised on the SEC Network’s Alternate Channel.