Q&A With Auburn Receiver Marcel Willis

The Auburn junior talks football with Inside the Auburn Tigers editor Mark Murphy.

Editor's Note: This week's Question and Answer feature is with junior wide receiver Marcel Willis. Willis, who was Auburn's leading returning receiver from the 2000 team, suffered an ankle injury in preseason that has limited his effectiveness. The Jacksonville, Fla., native has had a good week of practice and looks ready to play his best game.

Marcel Willis

Mark Murphy: Are you excited about getting the chance to play the No. 1 ranked team in the country?

Marcel Willis: "You don't get too many opportunities to play the No. 1 team in the country so you need to take advantage of every one you get. It is real exciting because everybody is always watching the No. 1 team so they will be watching you, too. It is your time to shine."

Mark Murphy: Considering how the Gators have been crushing opponents, will the Tigers be intimidated by this team?

Marcel Willis: "Intimidated, no. Not really. Florida is not an intimidating team, it is a finesse team. They will try to razzle-dazzle you instead of trying to come out there and physically intimidate you."

Mark Murphy: Being from Jacksonville, Fla., is the game special for you?

Marcel Willis: "Yes it is. I know a couple of folks on their team who I played against in high school. Growing up I saw the Gators on TV every week so it is a special feeling playing the Gators."

Willis came on strong during the 2000 season.

Mark Murphy: What does the Auburn offense need to do to pick up its pace scoring points?

Marcel Willis: "We have to gel. We have the talent to score. We have moved the ball on everybody we have played, but we have had turnovers or penalties that have hurt us. If we keep our focus on what we have to do, I think we can score the points we need."

Mark Murphy: The offense has problems scoring touchdowns once it moves into the red zone. How important is it going to be to improve in that area?

Marcel Willis: "It is very important. Once we get in the red zone this week, we have to score. You can't give up the opportunity to score seven when you are playing the No. 1 team in the nation. That is very critical."

Mark Murphy: It looks like the Tigers have had a good week of practice. Do you sense the same thing?

Marcel Willis: "We are pretty hyped for the game. We have to get up for these boys."

Mark Murphy: Is this a game that there will be a lot of action for you and the other receivers?

Marcel Willis: "There is no telling. I am not sure how strong Florida's running defense is. If our running game doesn't work, I believe this will be a game in which our receivers can really shine. It depends on what they do defensively."

Mark Murphy: Are you still making progress on getting your ankle healthy?

Marcel Willis: "It is getting better and better everyday. It feels much better than it did two weeks ago. It still has a little bit to go. It is not like it was when I was waking up in the morning and going, ‘Aw, shhhhh!' It is a little sore, but not that bad. It is definitely much better after practices than it has been."

Mark Murphy: Can winning a pressure-packed game like the Tigers did last week help you prepare for this game and the rest of the season?

Marcel Willis: "It does build our confidence knowing that we can beat Mississippi State, a team that had beaten us the last four years. We know that jinx is no more. Florida has been beating us, too, but we aren't worrying about that anymore because we know we can come through in a big SEC game."

Mark Murphy: What will it take to beat the Gators on Saturday night?

Marcel Willis: "The number one thing is to focus and concentrate on what we need to do. We have the talent to get the job done."


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