This Tiger Hopes Bigger Is Better For 2004 Season

Junior wide receiver Ben Obomanu talks about the changes he has made since the 2003 season and the changes in Auburn's style of play.

Auburn, Ala.--If Ben Obomanu looks bigger, stronger and faster than when he and his teammates wrapped up the 2003 season with a bowl victory over Wisconsin, it's not your imagination.

The six-foot-one wide receiver is up to 202 pounds, 10 more pounds than he weighed last season.

"I feel like I am improved since last year," Obomanu tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "Each season you want to work on different areas that will help you improve as a player. I took pride in this offseason trying to get bigger and faster and, more importantly, I have tried to get smarter, too, knowing we have a new offensive system."

That new system, installed by offensive coordinator Al Borges, will be on display at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday when the Tigers open the 2004 campaign vs. visiting Louisiana-Monroe. Obomanu and his offensive teammates are a bit like kids with a new toy. They can hardly wait to try it out and the sooner they get the chance to play with it, the better.

"I think everybody is excited about the opportunity for taking this new offense out and trying it against Louisiana-Monroe," he says. "We hope we can make some big plays and get the season started off right."

Ben Obomanu makes a play during this year's A-Day Game.

Obomanu says he believes that most days in practice the offense is making progress on learning the West Coast system and he says that trend needs to continue. "We aren't there yet as an offense, but we are trying hard and we are getting there," he says.

He says the new style should be a fun one to play and the receivers are excited about Borges' love of throwing the deep ball. "It has been a dramatic change knowing that Coach Borges wants to stretch the field," Obomanu says. "That is how you keep defenses honest and make them soften up on coverage. It has been a big challenge among the wide receivers. We have a little contest each day to see who can catch the most deep passes."

With Auburn featuring talented running backs like Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown, Obomanu says the Tiger wideouts will have situations in which they will get to work against single coverage. "I believe that will happen," he says. "When it does we need to take advantage of the situation."

Although he is listed as a backup behind fellow junior Devin Aromashodu, based on the playing rotation in preseason Obomanu will see significant playing time this year.

Last season, Obomanu made some big plays, but he also had some plays he would rather forget like a dropped pass in the end zone that would have won the Ole Miss game if he had made the catch.

"He can't worry about that one drop," wide receivers coach Greg Knox says. "That's history. I think Ben is a mentally tough kid so he's able to put that behind him and move forward. This is a year where he can really step forward and show some things. He's bigger, he's faster and he's more mature. Hopefully, good things will happen for him this year."

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