Becoming A Playmaker

This Auburn defender is beginning to make an impact for the 2001 football Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Known more for running the football than chasing it when he arrived on the Auburn campus three years ago, defensive end Reggie Torbor looks as if he's finally found a home on the defensive side of the ball for the Tigers.

Playing perhaps the best game of his collegiate career on Saturday night in Nashville against Vanderbilt, he had one sack, one batted down pass and six total tackles in the Tigers' 24-21 victory.

"It started off kind of slow but once I got in there I got the feel of the game," Torbor says of his game against the Commodores. "I had been seeing what they were going to do on film, but it's a big difference between actually being up against it and watching it on tape. Once I got comfortable I just started playing with emotion and that helps. Ninety-nine percent of the time emotion is going to help you and I started playing a good ball game."

Reggie Torbor

Making big plays at crucial times is every defensive player's dream and Torbor is no different. His dream became a reality on Saturday as both his sack and batted pass came at important times for the Tigers. While the sack was big, the batted pass was a precursor to one of the biggest plays of the game.

After a Damon Duval punt was downed by Carlos Rogers on the Vandy two-yard line with the game tied at 14, the Tiger defenders set up their offensive counterparts with the scoring opportunity of a lifetime. On first down DeMarco McNeil almost recorded a safety, allowing the Commodore runner to only reach the one-yard line. On second down Torbor jumped high to swat a Greg Zolman pass out of the air that had a good chance to be completed near the sideline.

"It's kind of natural," he says of his ability to knock down passes at the line of scrimmage. "When you see the quarterback cock back you know to get your hands up. But they teach us that as a defense now and I think all of us across the board are good at that. That's just the reaction we've been trained to have."

That play was important because one play later, feeling the pressure of having to throw out of his own end zone, Zolman hurried his pass and Karlos Dansby stepped in front for an interception and returned it 22 yards to the Vanderbilt one-yard line. Freshman tailback Carnell Williams scored one play later to give the Tigers a 21-14 lead and they would go on to a 24-21 win.

The challenge for the Auburn defense steps up dramatically this week as the hungry Mississippi State Bulldogs come to Jordan-Hare Stadium fresh off their 52-0 drubbing at the hands of the Florida Gators on Saturday. After giving up 168 yards on the ground to Vanderbilt last week and 226 the week before to Syracuse, Torbor said the defense has to get the job done this week or else loss number two will become a reality for the Tigers.

"It's not as much as can we do it, we have to do it," he says. "It's not like we have a choice. If we don't do it, it could get real ugly real fast. Mississippi State is coming off a tough loss. They have two SEC losses and they know if they lose this one their chances are pretty much over so they're going to come ready. We have to be just as ready."


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