Getting Ready For the Road

He may be young, but this Tiger says he fully realizes the importance of Auburn's next football test.

Auburn, Ala.--Redshirt freshman linebacker Mayo Sowell says although he is young, he understands the importance of this week's road trip to Fayetteville.

"Everybody else has a loss now in the conference so this is a real big game for us with a chance to go 5-0 in the SEC," Sowell says. "There are some big games in the SEC this week like Ole Miss vs. LSU and Georgia vs. Florida. No matter how they come out, if we keep winning we are in great shape."

Mayo Sowell

Sowell's presence on the field in the Florida game is a prime reason the Tigers are still unbeaten in conference play. He had a surprisingly strong first college start for a third stringer who had seen most of his game action on special teams.

He didn't play as well defensively in his second start vs. Louisiana Tech, however, nobody else around him did either. "We need to prepare mentally for the Arkansas game," Sowell says. "We need to make sure we are straight on our pass coverages and we need to tackle well. If we do all of that, we should be all right."

Mayo Sowell

Linebacker coach Joe Whitt is expected to have more options to choose this week with starter Tavarreus Pounds expected to be in the lineup. There is also a chance that former starter Mark Brown will be cleared for action. Also, the team's leading tackler, Dontarrious Thomas, is making progress from a knee sprain that left him less than full speed on homecoming.

Whitt has been working the linebackers intensely this week in practice making sure they know their assignments as the Tigers prepare for a very different style of offense than they faced against Florida and Louisiana Tech. "Coach Whitt has had some constructive criticism," Sowell says with a smile. "He got mad on a couple of things from the last game that we should have done right, but he told us that we will get everything straightened out. We will work harder in practice until we get them corrected."

After watching video of the 3-3 Razorbacks, Sowell says he is expecting a physical game on Saturday as the two teams meet at 11:30 a.m. in a game that will be televised regionally on Jefferson-Pilot Sports. "They like to run the ball a lot with a lot of outside zone plays and powers," Sowell says. "They run traps and isos (isolation plays) and their running backs like to cut back a lot. Their linemen like to be physical. That means we have to stay at home. Their tailback (Greg Talley) is a good cutback runner. He has great vision and breaks a lot of tackles. They haven't passed as much as some of the other teams we have played. The first thing we have to do on Saturday is stop the run."

Sowell says that he could have played better last week, but says overall he had a decent game vs. Louisiana Tech. However, as a whole the defense was disappointed with its play in a 48-41 overtime victory. "We are ready to get back out on the field and redeem ourselves. We have got to do better this week."

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