Senior Knows How Big Rivalry Is

Wide receiver Jeris McIntyre and Coach Tommy Tuberville talk about the Alabama rivalry and Wednesday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--Few players on the Auburn team have more of a love for the Iron Bowl than wide receiver Jeris McIntyre. The son of former Auburn standout Secdrick McIntyre, he has grown up around this rivalry and has experienced them firsthand himself since he's been on the Plains. The senior said that this game takes on a special feel once you actually experience it in person.

"Growing up in Florida he told me how big the rivalry was," McIntyre said. "Just seeing the games on television and growing up in an Auburn family I know how big the Auburn-Alabama rivalry is. I never came to a game, but once I got here my first year I really saw how the rivalry really was. Once you play in it, it takes it to another level. If you're in Alabama and you play for Auburn or Alabama you know how big this rivalry is."

Much of the talk this time around for the Tigers has been about erasing the memories from a painful defeat at the hands of Alabama two seasons ago in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Favored coming into the contest, Auburn was pummeled by the Crimson Tide and McIntyre said that memory stays with the team to this very day and they have used it as motivation since that day.

"Quite honestly I really don't know what went wrong," McIntye said. "They came out and put it to us. They beat us pretty good. That's all I can say about that game. It was a bad feeling and we remember that. It's not easy to forget.

"Those past games, you remember them, but it's this year and we're just focusing on what we have to do this year to be successful."

Struggling to a 6-5 record this season and a berth in a minor bowl game waiting after the season, the 2003 Auburn Tigers have been a disappointment to themselves and everyone associated with the program. Playing an Alabama team that will finish with a losing record no matter what happens the rest of the way, McIntyre said the game still has plenty of luster and is just as important as it always has been.

"Regardless if you're 10-0 or 1-9 or our record right, when you play the Iron Bowl you throw out the records because this is the biggest rivalry in college football," McIntyre said.

Silas Daniels will be a player the Tigers may look for this Saturday because of an injury to Anthony Mix.

After being forced to split into offensive and defensive groups for Tuesday's practice because of bad weather in the area, the Auburn Tigers were back together again Wednesday for a two hour practice and Coach Tommy Tuberville said the day was a good one and they'll need another on Thursday to make up for some lost time this week.

"We worked on the passing game on both sides today," Tuberville said. "Yesterday we did all of our running game and today we did all of our passing game. We put in our gameplan. The kicking game was good today. John Vaughn kicked for us today and did a good job. Philip (Philip Yost) also did a good job. We'll make a decision probably tomorrow on who will kick."

The injury report has some bad news for the Tigers as wide receiver Anthony Mix did not practice on Wednesday after sitting out on Tuesday and is doubtful for this weekend's game. While it was apparent that he suffered a slight concussion during Saturday's loss to Georgia, he also rolled his ankle and has a high ankle sprain. Tuberville said it's doubtful that he'll be ready to play this weekend against Alabama, but defensive tackle Tommy Jackson is another story.

"He practiced," Tuberville said of Jackson. "He's running around, but didn't do anything. He's got a pretty good chance. Mix is doubtful. They haven't given up on him yet. The doctors said they might have him out there tomorrow. He's been in treatment since he got hit. I haven't seen anything but ice on him for four days."

Without Mix Tuberville said the Tigers would likely rotate McIntyre inside to the slot receiver when needed and sophomore Devin Aromashodu, junior Silas Daniels and redshirt freshman Courtney Taylor are all in line to see more playing time this Saturday because of the injury.

A position of strength this weekend should be at defensive end where Reggie Torbor and Bret Eddins have been the bellcows playing while injuries took their toll on the position, but that has changed in recent weeks. Both Jay Ratliff and Doug Langenfeld have returned and are doing well while freshman Kyle Derozan and Marquies Gunn give depth at the position along with senior Dexter Murphy.

"Those three (Eddins, Ratliff and Langenfeld) are on one side," Tuberville said. "Torbor and Marquies are on the other. Dexter goes both ways. Dexter has been practicing inside in Tommy's place, but he's always done that and flips back and forth."

Because of Tuesday's practice changes Tuberville said Thursday's practice would be a little bit longer than normal and it will be Auburn's last regular season practice this year.

Kickoff for Saturday's game against 4-5 Alabama is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. and can be seen nationally on ESPN. Auburn is looking for its third win over Alabama in the last four seasons.

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