Senior Defenders Have "Dunn" A Good Job

Auburn's defensive tackles coach talks about preparations for the bowl game and saying goodbye to this senior class.

Nashville, Tenn.--One of the deepest positions on the Auburn Tiger team has been up front on defense where the front four has set the tone for a unit ranked as the sixth-best defense in the country this season.

Led by seniors Demarco McNeil, Spencer Johnson, Reggie Torbor and reserve Dexter Murphy, the Tigers have been strong against the run all season and have only had one bad outing in 12 games.

Auburn will need another solid performance out of the front four on Wednesday when the Tigers face an explosive and physical Badger offense that can hurt you with both the run and the pass. Defensive tackles coach Don Dunn says that if this week is any indication his unit should be ready for the 11:07 a.m. kickoff in the Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl.

"I thought our kids have really done well," Dunn says. "Even as bad as the weather was (Monday) they focused. They are picking it up and I think they are ready to play. It's been a good trip. It's a great place and a great bowl trip. They've been able to do a lot, but they haven't been too busy.

"We've been able to meet and get all of our meetings in and focus on Wisconsin. It's going to be a real challenge. They are a good football team. We have to stop the run. That's the deal. I've been real pleased with their effort and what they've done so far."

Don Dunn has been on the AU coaching staff since Tommy Tuberville arrived for the 1999 season.

Unlike most seasons the Tigers didn't practice the allotted 15 times in preparation for a bowl game. Instead the coaching staff used the time to mend fences on the recruiting trail while the team focused on academics with final exams right before Christmas break. Even without the full practice schedule Dunn says that the coaches have found time to work the younger players and he's been happy with the development of freshmen like Tim Duckworth and Tez Doolittle.

"The more you get those young guys involved, not only with practice but the experience of a bowl trip because they've never been on a bowl trip and don't know how to adjust their time and what to do and what not to do, it's a great experience for them," Dunn says. "Plus, the extra practice is like another spring practice. It has been good."

Demarco McNeil will be playing his final Auburn game in the Music City Bowl.

While the younger players have been given a lot of the attention during practices leading up to this week, this game will be all about finishing the 2003 season on a high note and winning the game for a senior class that has shown leadership and poise beyond its years. Dunn says that when the final horn sounds on Wednesday he knows it will be a bittersweet day for the coaches and players that have to say goodbye one last time.

"It's going to be a tough day and very emotional," Dunn says. "Hopefully, we can win it for those 13 seniors. They've meant so much to Auburn and the Auburn family and the program. It's going to be a sad day, but I know they are going to be great down the road. They are all going to have a great career. They are going to be good citizens, good people and they have all graduated. I couldn't be prouder."


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