"My shoulder has been banged up and my hamstring problem was starting to come back on me so the off-week came at a good time for me," says Hood, a starting junior cornerback from Columbus, Ga. "I have just been trying to get treatment, relax and get focused on this game, which isn't hard to do because I can't get my mind off of it."
Hood says the first scheduled off-week of the 2001 season was definitely needed throughout the team. He says the Tigers will need to play significantly better this Saturday to come home a winner than they have in their past two games.
"I have been looking at plenty of film of them," Hood says of the Georgia Bulldogs. "They have a great team. They are probably one of the best teams we will face all year. We will have to really play in order to get a win on their home field."
Kickoff time for the game is 2:30 p.m. CST from Sanford Stadium, a location where Auburn has eight wins in its last nine tries. Hood says that Auburn players are always ready to play the Bulldogs because the Tigers have key players on their roster from the state of Georgia.
Roderick Hood at Sunday's practice.
"Every year there is a lot of emotion in this game for me and our team," he says. "I look forward to playing them every year. There are a lot of my friends on their side. I talked to (Georgia running back Jasper Sanks) this weekend. We didn't talk too much about the game. I just asked him how he was doing and how he enjoyed the off-week.
"We have a lot of boys from Georgia," Hood adds. "The emotions are riled up. We know each other personally. You play with a lot of emotion and you give it your all...We have six or seven starters from Georgia. We know a lot of guys over there and we are looking forward to playing them."
Hood says the defense has the added incentive to prove itself after a pair of dismal performances vs. Louisiana Tech and Arkansas following a sterling performance vs. Florida. "We have lost focus," Hood says. "We haven't been doing our techniques and being fundamentally sound. We are trying to get that back this week. We have got a lot of intensity. Now we just have to focus on what we have got to do and be ready this weekend."
Auburn played with intensity and focus in its victory over then top-ranked Florida. Hood says his team is talking about reaching that level again vs. the Bulldogs. "We have to if we want to win," he says. "Believe it or not, we made a lot of mistakes in the Florida game, but we came out with a win. We have to eliminate the big mistakes and stay aggressive."
If Auburn defeats the Bulldogs, the Tigers will just need to win one more game to defend their SEC West title. Auburn has a home contest vs. Alabama followed by a road trip to LSU. "We control our own destiny," Hood says. "We don't want to win two out of three. We want to win three out of three, but we have to take one game at a time and Georgia is our first step."