Defensive Intensity Sets Tone For Tigers

Sophomore Will Herring discusses Auburn's win over Tennessee, Jason Campbell and more.

Auburn, Ala.–-Sometimes there's just a feeling in the air that things are going to go right. Not only was that feeling drifting through Auburn's locker room before the game, sophomore safety said it was absolutely flowing through the entire Tiger team.

"Brother Chette (Williams) Friday night in our meeting, he told a story of Roman soldiers and how they used to lock up side by side," Herring said. "Going out there, there was just something different in the atmosphere in the locker room. I had never seen anything like it. It felt so good I was worried. We came out and played the kind of ball we're capable of playing. That's what it's going to take from here on out.

"It was a total team effort on both sides of the ball," Herring said. "The special teams came up big for us with two field goals and great kickoff and punt coverage. I just couldn't be prouder of our guys."

Will Herring

Leading Auburn with 12 tackles, including nine solo stops, and also breaking up one pass, Herring was all over the field for the Tigers in the victory. A former quarterback at Opelika High, the sophomore said that the win was huge for the team and also for senior quarterback Jason Campbell because of the way he played.

"All the criticism he's taken over the years, in changing offense after offense, he's a true leader," Herring said. "He leads by example. He's not one to get up in your face as much as he probably should, but he leads by example. There's not anybody on this team that is respected more than Jason Campbell."

That's not what most of the nation thought going into Saturday's contest with all the talk centering on true freshmen quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer from Tennessee. Herring said that there was no doubt in his mind who the quarterback of the game was going to be before the contest even kicked off.

"Those guys are going to be great players in the future, but we were sick and tired of all the hype and hoopla on both of them," Herring said. "It's no disrespect to them because they're both going to be incredible players, but going into this there's not a quarterback in the nation I would feel better about leading our troops than Jason. He came out and did his job once again today. I couldn't be more proud of him. He stayed poised in front of 107,000 fans. It was like practice to him. He was just out there playing ball."

On the defensive side of the ball Junior Rosegreen is one of the players the team looks up to when times get tough. Saturday night the senior from Dillard High in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. had the kind of game most only dream about. Seemingly in Tennessee's huddle all night, Rosegreen tied a SEC record with four interceptions and also had six tackles. Just the thought of Rosegreen's performance made Herring smile.

"Rose had the game of a lifetime," Herring said. "He was in the right spot and made some great plays. There's nobody I could be happier for than Junior."

In last season's Auburn win over Tennessee, the Vols abandoned the running game early and never came back to it, instead choosing to ride the arm of Casey Clausen. This season things were supposed to be different with Cedric Houston and Gerald Riggs Jr. the spearheads to the league leading rushing offense.

But, just like in 2003, the Vols didn't challenge Auburn running the ball. Instead they chose to attack through the air and played right into Coach Gene Chizik's hands. Herring said he was surprised that Tennessee didn't run early, instead Auburn set the tone for the day with a quick defensive stand. The rest was history.

"We thought coming in that they would try to line up and run the ball at us," Herring said. "They didn't rush for anything last year. We were harping all week to get a three and out on the first series because against LSU they came down and scored a touchdown on the opening drive. We just wanted to make a statement."

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