Not Very Big Linebacker Carries A Large Load

Junior Travis Williams discusses Auburn's victory over Tennessee and how the crowd helped in a battle of unbeatens.

Auburn, Ala.–-When Auburn traveled to Tennessee this past weekend, there was a lot on the line for both teams, but Tiger junior linebacker Travis Williams says the game wasn't the end of the season nor was it any more important than any of the other eight conference games this season.

"That was a big game, but another SEC game," Williams says. "There was a lot of hype behind it, but we try not to get caught up in the hype. We like to just go out and play football. That's what we did."

If there was ever a player who lived to play football, it is Williams. Considered by some too small to play in the middle in the SEC, Williams has silenced critic after critic this season and leads Auburn with 25 tackles through five games.

A lot of the pre-game focus prior to Auburn's victory was centered on UT's true freshmen quarterbacks Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer. Williams says that helped Auburn get ready for the game on defense.

"I think we were out there just to wake them up," Williams says. "We had to let them know this is the SEC and not high school ball. There were a lot of things the young guy said, but he's still learning. I guess the coaches didn't tell him what to say and what not to say. He put out some bulletin board material."

Travis Williams is a second year starter for the Tigers, who made the move to middle linebacker this season.

When Ainge said Auburn's secondary wasn't as good as its members believed they were, it fired up the Tiger defense, although they needed little extra motivation in a game featuring two Top 10 teams. Williams says that Ainge's need to get help from the sidelines and offensive coordinator Randy Sanders gave the Tigers all the help they needed to keep the Vols off balance Saturday night.

"When he came to the line his intention was to look to the sidelines and let him coach give him the call," Williams says. "The coach wanted to see our defense, but a couple of times he didn't know what we were doing. I think he was relying on his coach to give him the call. The whole thing that shocked him was the speed of our defense. It was a different level."

The player who skyrocketed to not only a different level but a different world was senior safety Junior Rosegreen. Tying a NCAA record with four interceptions in one game, Rosegreen was one of the many standouts for Auburn on a night when player after player made things happen for the Tigers.

"On this defense we know that somebody will step up," Williams says. "All week we were like, 'Who's going to make the big play?' In big games like that it comes down to who's going to make the big play. We were just fortunate enough to have a big lead, but Rosegreen had four picks. You could say he had the big play, but we played as a defense and as a family. Overall it was a great effort."

While the team was shutting down Tennessee on the field, a loud and raucous Auburn crowd had an effect on the game from the opening whistle. Despite being split into several different sections for the game, Tiger fans were vocal and actually had a much bigger impact on the football game than the home crowd thanks to an early Auburn lead.

"It's all about loyal fans," Williams says. "We went all the way up to Rocky Top, but when you looked in that corner all you saw was orange and blue. It's big support and that's helping us out. To see our crowd and at Tiger Walk the support we got, that was just big.

"It just gets us pumped to see the support and the love for Auburn and Auburn football. Traveling up to Tennessee and a hostile environment we knew their fans were going to be rowdy and our fans were going to have to help us out. They were there ready to fight with us. That's a real good feeling."


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