Tight End Says Tigers Still Improving

Junior Cooper Wallace is looking to continue to develop his role in Auburn's offensive system.

Auburn, Ala.--After being injured and missing much of the preseason, Cooper Wallace hasn't exactly had a fast start to the 2004 football season. However, that may be changing for the Auburn junior.

"I think my role will continue to grow," the tight end says. "It seems like every week our role continues to grow. I guess that is coach getting a little more confidence in me, but I can't be dropping balls. He knows I can do what he wants me to do. As the year goes on, I think I will get more and more involved in the offense."

Wallace was called on in a key situation at Tennessee last Saturday on a second down and goal to go play with the Tigers on top 7-0. Quarterback Jason Campbell rolled out to his right and threw a pass to Wallace, who was alone in the back of the end zone. However, the junior from Nashville couldn't hang on for the touchdown.

In the second half, his number was called again and this time he caught a short pass from Campbell on a bootleg and turned it into a 31-yard gain. "That made me feel a lot better," Wallace says. "I guess everybody gets one of those in their career that is so easy it gets away from you."

What really made the tight end feel better is that his drop in the end zone didn't hurt the Tigers' cause at Neyland Stadium. On the next play, Campbell found wide receiver Ben Obomanu open on a quick slant pass over the middle. "Ben got a touchdown after that one so the team was okay so that is all I really care about," Wallace says.

The theme of "team" has been growing as Auburn's winning streak has grown to five this season and seven going back to the end of the 2003 campaign. Wallace, who has five receptions for 90 yards, says he believes it will continue.

"The team this year is really close, both offense and defense," he notes. "Almost every single guy on the team is my good friend. I am not afraid to talk to anybody or it is not weird being around somebody. Everybody is really close. It is just a family. I am playing as hard as I can for the offense, but when I come off the field every defensive guy is there to greet me. We have showed a good team effort this year. I just hope we keep a good focus on what we are trying to do."

The offense has improved since last year and the defense, believed to be in a rebuilding mode, has played better than many expected. The Tigers are currently ranked fourth nationally in scoring defense.

"Before the season I would have never put it past them to play this well, but I think a lot of people in the media doubted how well they would do," Wallace says of the defense. "I think it is real exciting they have done as well as they have. If they keep it up they are making our job pretty easy on offense.

"I definitely have a good feeling about this team," Wallace adds. "Since I have been here we haven't started 5-0. We can't let it get to our head. If we lose the rest of the games, we aren't going to get anywhere. We just have to finish out the season and take it game by game."

The Tigers will play their homecoming game on Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. kickoff vs. Louisiana Tech.

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