Tiger Safety Ready For Big Test From Razorbacks

Sophomore safety Will Herring discusses Auburn's key SEC West showdown vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Auburn, Ala.--The 2004 Auburn defense is looking forward to one of its biggest tests of the season Saturday at 2:30 p.m. when the Arkansas Razorbacks come to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn, which is ranked in the Top 10 in the country in passing, scoring and total defense, will be facing the league's top total yardage offense and scoring offense. The Razorbacks are led by senior quarterback Matt Jones.

"Any time you have to deal with a dual-threat quarterback it's going to be a big challenge," says sophomore free safety Will Herring. "He's a pretty good passer, but at the same time you have to respect his running ability. It's going to come down to everybody doing their responsibilities and the ends on certain defenses keeping contain. It's going to take all 11 of us.

"He's an absolute phenomenon if you ask me, to be his size," Herring adds. "With his stride he really doesn't look like he's moving that fast, but when you're out there on the field running with him he's moving like you wouldn't believe."

Herring started 11 games and played in all 13 as a true freshman in 2003. He was selected to some freshman all-star teams following the season, but didn't quite play up to his potential.

"I feel a lot more comfortable this year," he says. "I feel like I've made strides in a few areas particularly with knowing what's going on before the play even happens and learning the offense throughout the week, and my tackling has improved. I still have a lot to work on, but I'm just trying to get better every day."

Will Herring

A year ago, Herring was a step behind in pass coverage at times, but has drastically improved in that area this season. He has also improved his tackling ability.

"Last year I played about 205 and this year I've dropped to about 215," he says. "I was 220 going into the season. A lot of tackles were being broken last year that I feel like I'm able to make by myself this year--not just hit and hold on, but actually bring the guy down."

Herring tallied 24 unassisted tackles in 2003 and already has 22 this season.

"I'm probably a step faster this year on Yox's (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall) time," he notes. "I've actually improved since last year. I feel like my mentality has progressed in the direction it needs to go as well as my physical ability. Hopefully it will get better every year.

Saturday's game between the 6-0 Auburn Tigers, 3-0 in the SEC, and the 3-2 Arkansas Razorbacks, 1-1 in the SEC, can be seen nationally on CBS.


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