Defensive Tiger Ready For Challenge

Cornerback Kevin Hobbs and Coach Tommy Tuberville talk about this week's match-up with Ole Miss and Wednesday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Wednesday's practice for the Auburn Tigers focused on learning the gameplan for this weekend's showdown with #20 Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium. For the defense that means facing a Rebel offense that has been nearly unstoppable this season through nine games. Cornerback Kevin Hobbs said the attack begins and ends with quarterback Eli Manning.

"He's really impressive," Hobbs said. "He's a real good quarterback, one of the best I've ever seen. He has the ability to throw it short, the intermediate route and he can also throw it deep. His receivers do a good job of getting open. Any time a quarterback and his receivers are on the same page it's going to be hard to contain him. Our job is just to contain him because with a guy like Eli I don't think you can really shut him down."

Looking to go 6-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1962, the Rebels depend on a deep and explosive receiving corps to make plays after the catch for Manning. The leader of the group is senior Chris Collins, who needs just two catches to break the all-time single season receptions record of 56 for Ole Miss. Throw in Mike Espy, Bill Flowers, Taye Biddle and others and you have a talented group awaiting ahead for Auburn's secondary.

"They really are with Collins, Espy, Flowers and some other guys," Hobbs said. "I think Collins is their best one. He runs excellent routes and has speed and great hands. I think they are all on the same page as far as quarterbacks and receivers. That's why they do a good job of passing the football. We have to cover them and cover them tight because if there's any little crease he can zip it in there."

Kevin Hobbs has three of Auburn's eight interceptions this season.

With Carlos Rogers the most experienced of Auburn's cornerbacks and Junior Rosegreen back at safety, the chance that Hobbs will get a see a lot of action in Saturday's game is pretty high. Even though he knows that's the case, Hobbs said that he is ready for the challenge and knows his teammates will be as well.

"I think in order for us to have a good game I think it's going to be a lot on me," Hobbs said. "I know they are going to come after me. If I can have a good game I think the rest will follow because Junior and Carlos and Will are going to have good games. If I can have a good game we can put it all together. I know they are going to come after me, but Eli is they type to throw it both ways regardless of who's on either side."

Helping to keep the Rebels under wraps will be a defense designed to avoid the big play. Much of the reason for that are linebackers Karlos Dansby and Travis Williams. Speedy players that can play the run and pass well, the duo give Coach Tommy Tuberville and his defensive staff a great number of options in a game like Saturday's.

"We play him at safety some, at linebacker, rush him at defensive end and play him at middle linebacker," Tuberville said of Dansby. "He can cover a wide receiver in the slot and is also helps to have a guy like Travis. He's the same way. He's got good athletic ability so you feel good about moving out in the slot and playing man coverage.

"Speed at linebacker is really a necessity when you play a team like this. You don't want big, bulky linebackers that can't run then you're in trouble. They wouldn't play in this game. You would have to substitute defensive backs. We don't have to do that."

Practicing in unseasonably warm November weather for the second-straight day, the Tigers worked for just over two hours in full pads. Tuberville said that a good portion of the practice was spent shoring up the special teams. With a solid Ole Miss team coming in this weekend the coaching staff wants to make sure they leave no stone unturned in an effort to secure a victory.

"We got all of our gameplan in and everybody practiced," Tuberville said. "We let Marcus McNeill take about an hour off, but he'll play and is ready to go. Doug Langenfeld is going 100 percent so it looks like we'll be in good shape health wise. We know we have our hands full.

"We've worked a lot of special teams this week. We're trying to make sure we have all of our bases covered. They've got an excellent field goal guy and a good punter. We want to make sure we've done all of our homework on special teams."

All week long the coaches have talked about some possible changes on special teams this week and Wednesday Tuberville hinted at what some of those might be. In addition to getting players like Ronnie Brown and Courtney Taylor more involved because of their speed and athleticism, he said that Devin Aromashodu has been getting a long look on kickoff returns in the place of Tre Smith and could join Carnell Williams back deep this week against the Rebels.

There was a special guest at Wednesday's practice as former Auburn golfer Jason Dufner took in much of the work while recovering from his big weekend of action at the Nationwide Tour Championship held in Prattville. Finishing in the top-20 of the season money list, Dufner earned an exemption onto the PGA Tour and will begin his season in January as a member.

Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and the game can be seen nationally on CBS television. Auburn enters with a record of 6-3 overall, 4-1 in SEC play, while Ole Miss is 7-2, 5-0 in conference action.


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