Torbor and his teammates will be on the practice field by August 5th preparing for a serious opening day test vs. the Southern Cal Trojans. For Auburn to be successful against the Pac-10 power that defeated the Tigers last season in Los Angeles, Torbor says the defense will have to play at a high level. For that to happen, several key players must be replaced during preseason drills, the defensive end says.
"I think our defense can be better, but we probably lost the two worst people we could have lost," Torbor says. "We lost the brains of our secondary (free safety Travaris Robinson) and the brains of our front seven (middle linebacker Mark Brown).
Reggie Torbor (82) battles fellow senior Mark Pera at practice.
"Going back and watching film of the plays that ‘T' made last year is impressive," Torbor proclaims. "At the end of the year, I believe he was playing better than any safety in the country. Personally, I know that I would make a mistake, but he would cover for me. Watching film, I know what was supposed to happen. He would just come up so quick and fill the spot. It was like he was playing with a purpose at the end of the year.
"We are going to miss Mark Brown," Torbor adds. "Losing him is sort of like losing two linebackers because DT (Dontarrious Thomas) moved from weakside to the middle. He is not a new guy because he has lots of experience, but he will be seeing things in different way now. Someone has to replace DT so we will have a new guy there."
The only other position on defense where the Tigers don't have the 2002 starter returning is at one of the cornerback spots where Roderick Hood and Horace Willis shared the playing time as seniors. Junior Carlos Rogers is the returning starter on the other corner.
"If we take care of those three positions, I believe we we can probably be the best that we have been since I have been here," says Torbor, a fifth-year senior.
Torbor himself is expected to be one of the top players on the team and possibly in the SEC. After injuring a hip during the preseason, he was slowed much of the 2002 season. A midseason illness just before the homecoming game didn't help the progress either. However, he bounced back late in the year and was a key to AU's defensive success in victories over Alabama to close the regular season and vs. Penn State in the bowl game.
"Late in the season I probably played the best that I have ever played," Torbor says. "It feels good to be healthy and knowing that you can do all you can do. I am the type of person who will limp through a game. A lot of people will look at that say, ‘You fought through it and I appreciate that.' But I look at it and think that I kind of shorted my team because I didn't do all I could to help my team win. When I do all that I can I sleep better at night.
I just pray that I stay healthy this season and I can take care of the rest," Torbor adds.