Tiger Senior Says Game Has "Added Flavor"

This senior talks about Auburn's first game on defense and the challenge awaiting the Tigers in Starkville.

Auburn, Ala.–-The main theme this week for the Auburn Tigers has been "physical" and that's just fine with senior strong safety Junior Rosegreen.

One of Auburn's most competitive and driven players, Rosegreen says the timing for the physical style of practices couldn't come at a more perfect time with a road trip to Mississippi State coming up this weekend.

"It's about hitting you in the mouth every play," Rosegreen says. "You don't take any plays off. It's about always being around the ball and when you get there it's like you have a chip on your shoulder. This is a game where it's man-on-man. If you're going to line up man-to-man, who's going to win? You have to be the man about yours and handle your business. As long as each one of us handle our business, we'll be fine."

Rosegreen admits that this time around is going to be different for the Tigers when squaring off against the Bulldogs. Last season lame duck Coach Jackie Sherrill brought his team into Jordan-Hare Stadium with very little life and the result was a thrashing delivered by the Tigers.

New Coach Sylvester Croom has instilled a new attitude into this year's team and Rosegreen says it was easy to see when watching video of MSU's victory over Tulane last week.

"They are a lot more confident in what they do," Rosegreen says. "When you're confident in what you're doing, you're always going to play better. From watching them on film they are a real confident team. I think he's (Croom) is the reason why they're real confident. He's a good motivator. I think we just have to come out and be ready to play a physical game for four quarters."

Junior Rosegreen is Auburn's most experienced defensive player.

Auburn is coming off a solid 31-0 win over outmatched Louisiana-Monroe in the season opener. The defense played well in the game, not allowing the Indians to do anything substantial against the first team Tiger defense. Rosegreen says that it was okay for a first game, but improvement is needed in all phases as the Tigers head into SEC play.

"We played pretty good, but I think we can get better," Rosegreen contends. "I think a lot of us have to step up to the plate and get more physical and vocal. Me and Carlos can't be the only ones always talking. Some other seniors have to step up on defense and say a little more, and that's what they've been doing. We're gelling together as a group and I think we're going to be a pretty good defense."

Rosegreen says that Auburn's defense has the benefit of practicing against a good offense every day in practice. Facing the running backs that the Tigers have in Carnell Williams, Ronnie Brown, Tre Smith, Carl Stewart and others gives the defense a chance to be physical every practice in the running game, which Rosegreen says should help them facing a power running game from Mississippi State on Saturday.

"They've got some pretty good backs, too," Rosegreen says. "They've got some shifty backs. We've just got to be ready to hit them and hit them hard every play. We'll talk about it all week. When one man hits the running back the other 10 have to come ready to bring it, too. If you have a defense that hustles to the ball and when they get their they're pissed off, then I think we'll be all right."

The first road game is always tough for a team to get through, but for Auburn's defense it will be especially challenging because of the number of young players who will be seeing action for the first time away from Jordan-Hare Stadium. With names like Stanley McClover, Quentin Groves, Christopher Browder and Josh Thompson all expected to play big roles, Rosegreen said it's up to those guys to raise their game this week.

"They have to take their game to another level," Rosegreen says. "They have to be ready to be physical for four quarters. They have to play smart. We can't have stupid penalties. You have to be smart, play your technique and just play hard. As long as they do that they'll be all right."

SEC games are always tough, but Rosegreen notes that this one has taken on an added flavor because of the sudden resurgence of the Bulldogs. Croom will undoubtedly get much of the talk leading up to the game, but says in the end this game is about which team wants it more.

"It's going to be a great game," he predicts. "I think Mississippi State is going to be ready to play. It's their hometown and they are going to rally behind their coach. We're going to rally behind our coach. It's going to be a 15-rounder. It's going to be a fight to the finish and the best man is going to win."


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