Working Out The Kinks

Kevin Hobbs talks about his position change and this week's SEC opener.

Auburn, Ala.--After practicing all spring and part of the preseason at safety, Kevin Hobbs was moved back to cornerback in August due to the loss of both David Irons and Courtney Denson in the secondary.

And despite the lack of practice repetitions at the position heading into the season, Hobbs got the call to start at cornerback in the Tigers' opener against Louisiana-Monroe when Montae Pitts was suspended for the game due to the violation of a team rule.

"I think I did pretty good," Hobbs says of his opening day performance. "I really didn't get any action my way as far as pass and run because they like to run it and do all of their plays to the boundary and I was to the field. As far as my technique, we went over the tape and coach said I did pretty good as far as my technique is concerned."

The former walk-on also notes that he didn't have to shake off any rust during the game, and he felt fine back at corner even with the lack of practice time. "I kind of worked those kinks out," says. "They moved me two weeks before our game Saturday so within those two weeks I kind of got most of it back," Hobbs explains. "It's just like riding a bike. Once you know how to do it you pretty much know how to do it. Just as far the technique stuff, I think, I've got all of that down."

The junior says that he is excited about the way his role on the 2004 Auburn team is panning out right now, but wouldn't hesitate to move again in a second. "Yeah, I am pretty happy because I love to play corner, but anything to help this team whether it is safety or corner. Wherever coach needs me, I am going to do that."

Hobbs adds that along with the opener being a good start to the season personally, it was also a good start for the defensive unit as a whole. "That meant a lot," Hobbs says about the opening day performance. "Anytime you can get a shutout, regardless of who you are playing, I think that is a statement in itself so we were pretty excited. We looked over the film. We saw our mistakes. We saw how we could have played even better than we did, but we were very happy because every time you pitch a shutout that is real good. We are excited about that, but now we have got to look forward to this week and try to get another goose egg this week."

Kevin Hobbs is shown working next to Will Herring at safety in preseason workouts.

One major difference this season for the cornerback, who started seven times as a sophomore for the Tigers, is his weight, which is up to around 192 pounds after playing last season at around 175.

With that added weight Hobbs appears to be becoming a more physical player in the secondary, which he says is a big key to defensive coordinator Gene Chizik's philosophy. "I know that Coach always harps in on us to be physical," Hobbs says. "You have got to be a physical defense--physical secondary. So, I just tried to play--as far as getting off blocks, I just tried to be physical. I don't know if it has anything to do with the weight, but it helps because I know a lot of time last year those bigger receivers would get to me and they would throw me either way they wanted to."

Physical defensive play will be a key for the Tigers this week against Mississippi State, and Hobbs says that he sees some threats on the Bulldogs' offense that he and his teammates will have to work hard to deal with on Saturday.

"First of all they have got a very athletic quarterback and anytime you have a quarterback that can break the pocket that means you have got to cover longer," Hobbs says of State's sophomore quarterback Omarr Conner. "That is a big problem. we are going to have to contain their quarterback. Then, as far as their running game, they have got a pretty good running game with Jerious Norwood and they have got a pretty good backup with Fred Reid.

"Their receivers are pretty good receivers," Hobbs continues. "Everybody--like reading all of the other news clippings and stuff, people say since Jenkins left last year they are ok, but they are not really that good. But, I mean, they have got some talent over there. We are going to have to be very disciplined as a defense and as a secondary we are going to have to cover--and especially if he breaks the pocket we are going to have to cover longer."

With Pitts back to practice this week and set to play on Saturday, it has not yet been settled whether Hobbs will get the starting nod again or will be working in a reserve role behind Pitts. However, Hobbs says that no matter who gets the starting nod, he and Pitts are planning on working as a tag-team duo in the secondary.

"Either one of us can get the job done--me or Montae," Hobbs explains. "So, we both just work hard, and I am pretty sure whoever starts the game the other one of us is going to rotate in or whatever. We are both going to play so we both have to be ready."

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