Senior Sees Growing Excitement In Auburn

Auburn, Ala.--It has been a long time since Bret Eddins has seen Auburn football fans as excited as they are right now after the Tigers' 7-0 start to the 2004 season.

A lifelong Auburn fan, the son of former standout Liston Eddins and one of the most seasoned veterans on this year's team, Eddins has seen his share of Tiger victories and knows his history of Auburn football. The senior defensive end says that it's always good to have positive things going on around the program because he's seen worse things in his lifetime.

"I think anytime you start getting a good ranking fans are going to get excited," Eddins says. "That's a good thing. You just hope they are able to keep that excitement for a couple more months. They're excited and that's good. That's a positive effect. I would rather them be out there looking for autographs than (holding) picket signs."

Eddins crushes LSU quarterback Marcus Randall earlier this season.

To think back to the rough times all Eddins has to do is remember last season. Ranked number one in the preseason by several publications, the Tigers didn't get off the mat until those dreams were dashed. Finishing the year 8-5 with a victory over Wisconsin in the Music City Bowl, the Tigers salvaged a season and learned some lessons.

"The experience last year kind of set us up for anything that could happen, good or bad," Eddins says. "I think guys learned how to handle the good and bad last year. Those of us that hadn't really been through something like that huge media hype we went through last year and then the falloff after the first two games. I think, outside of experience, it's hard to really be prepared for that."

Experience is something that wasn't prevalent on defense heading into this season with only five starters back from last year's squad. Because of that and having to replace NFL players like Dontarrious Thomas, Karlos Dansby, Reggie Torbor and Spencer Johnson, many thought the defense would struggle early in the season, especially against the run.

That has yet to happen as Auburn is allowing just 104.4 rushing yards per game and is the only team in the country that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown this season. Eddins says that the team doesn't really think about the current streak during games, instead choosing to remain focused on the opponent.

"On the field we're really trying to just execute, I guess," he says. "At the end of the game it's kind of neat to look at each other and say 'great job, they didn't score on us running the ball.' It's starting to kind of get to the point now where if they don't score a rushing touchdown we'll be okay, but we've got to get more rush on the quarterback. We're just trying to do what we can for the team."

Something that has helped the defense is the fact that Auburn has been bombing opponents early and often this season. In seven games the Tigers have scored 149 points in the first half and given up just 16 (one TD each to LSU and Arkansas, FG to Tennessee). Eddins says that has kept teams less inclinded to run the football and lets the defense be more aggressive in rushing the passer.

"That's probably had more of an effect on it than we have," Eddins says. "The offense has put up so many points that teams are having to throw the ball and keep the clock down when they score. Hopefully, if the offense will keep clicking it makes it so much easier on us. In turn I think we're able to get them the ball back quicker."

Things have been a little different in the second half of games as opponents have scored 45 points to 102 for Auburn. Still a sizeable margin in Auburn's favor, but one that Coach Tommy Tuberville and this Auburn defense say should be higher despite the big leads they've had this season.

"I think every time we go into halftime we tell each other 'play like it's 0-0 regardless of what the score is,'" Eddins says. "Against LSU we came in and there was maybe a little bit more of a sense of urgency because of how we were playing, but our attitude was the same. We're going to try to go out there and win the second half half regardless."

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