"Without A Doubt"

This AU lineman talks about preparations for LSU and his team's expectations for the regular season finale.

Auburn, Ala.--Playing perhaps the best football of his life early in the Georgia game, sophomore right tackle Mark Pera was looking like the player many had expected to see all season long for the Tigers.

However, things changed quickly as a Georgia defender rolled on Pera's ankle, causing the 6-6 offensive tackle to hobble off the field in pain. Replaced by Monreko Crittenden, who struggled with the pass rush against speedy defensive end Charles Grant for the remainder of the game and for the Alabama game one week later, Pera says that he's ready to go again after nursing his sprained ankle back to 100 percent. That is good news for an Auburn offense that is looking for positives heading into the showdown with LSU for the SEC Western Division Championship in Baton Rouge this Saturday.

It feels a lot better now," Pera notes. "I feel like I can go now. I tried to go for the Alabama game and just couldn't do it. It feels good now and I'm running 100 percent getting ready for LSU…right now I'm back with the first team. Monreko has been having some troubles the last couple of weeks and as of right now, I'm back with the first team. I'm just going to go out there and try to do my best."

Now back in the groove again both physically and mentally, Pera says that this Auburn team appears closer to being fully recovered from the disappointment in its performance against archrival Alabama in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Without a single 60-minute offensive performance to speak of this season in any game, he notes that he believes this team has a chance to do just that this Saturday because of the way they're practicing this week.

"I'm looking forward to us after these last two practices we've had the last two days and what I believe we'll do the rest of the week," Pera says. "I'm just looking to come out and play a complete game offensively and defensively. That's what I'm looking forward to the most because I think we can do it. We haven't done it all year, but I think this is the game. We're really concentrating on it, we know what's at stake. We have to go down there and play like we can."

Coming off perhaps the worst Auburn loss in the last decade, this team has rallied around the leadership of veterans like Kendall Simmons and James Callier as the Tigers try to regroup for a shot at a title this Saturday. Pera says this team has come back with a different mentality after taking the week to think about what went wrong against Alabama.

"Definitely," he answers when asked if he likes what he's seen out of the team since they returned. "Like coach Tub says, all the rats are jumping off the ship around Auburn with all the fans asking what happened and all that stuff. We believe in ourselves and we know what we can do. We've bounced back after the week off with the two best practices of the season. I have definitely seen a bounce back this week and I think we're going to be ready this week."

With one chance at some redemption for the Alabama loss, Pera says that he and his teammates know the importance of this game in the grand scheme of things for the Auburn program. Having a chance to return to the SEC title game and gain some much deserved respect when few gave them a shot to be close before the season is enough to get this team ready for whatever lies ahead in Baton Rouge and beyond.

"Without a doubt," he says. "Nobody gave us a chance coming into the year and we knew we could do it. Now we're back where we want to be and it's in our hands. If we win this game we go back to Atlanta and we can do it, without a doubt."


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