Mr. Rogers Welcomes Wildcats To His Neighborhood

Auburn, Ala.--For somebody that the visiting team did its best to avoid last week, Carlos Rogers was in the middle of the action about as much as possible for a cornerback in Auburn's 38-20 football victory over Arkansas.

On Saturday, when his Tigers look to run their record to 8-0, Rogers is eager to see even more action as Auburn faces the Kentucky Wildcats in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"The Arkansas game was one of my best all-around games defending the ball, breaking up passes and coming up on run support," Rogers tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "That is something that I have to continue to do throughout the year."

Through seven games, opposing teams have thrown the football into his area of the field 45 times, but have come away with just 11 completions, not counting one that was completed to Rogers that he took the distance for a touchdown interception. Opposing teams have chosen to throw in the preseason All-SEC cornerback's direction only 23 percent of the time.

Last week against the Razorbacks, visiting quarterback Matt Jones looked to be especially careful not to throw the football in Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. "A lot of quarterbacks don't throw balls my way," the senior says. "That is a good sign for me, but at the same time I want a challenge."

Perhaps the most impressive play that Rogers made last week was to use his sub 4.5 speed in the 40-yard dash to make a touchdown-saving tackle on a long run by Jones, who is one of the fastest players in the SEC. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt suggested that his quarterback would have scored if he had been full speed on the play. Rogers chuckles at that suggestion. "I think I have got a little speed, too," he says. "I don't think he had a chance to score there."

There hasn't been too much scoring on Rogers or the Tigers as a team, who are second nationally in scoring defense, allowing 9.0 points per contest. "We are playing good football as a group," Rogers says. "We are keeping the fires going in the secondary. The linebackers and defensive line are playing well, too.

This will be the first time Rogers, or any player on the current Auburn team, has faced Kentucky in football. The Tigers, who have won nine straight games dating back to the 2003 season, are heavy favorites to beat Kentucky for a 14 consecutive time. Auburn's last loss to the Wildcats was in 1966.

Carlos Rogers

Rogers notes that there will be some carryover from last week's game to Saturday's SEC contest vs. Kentucky because the Wildcats do some of the same things on offense that Arkansas uses "The Kentucky quarterback runs the option and he will pass, too," the Auburn senior says. "We have to get out there and be smart about our keys.

"It is fun playing somebody new, but you don't know what to expect," adds Rogers, who has 38 career collegiate starts. "You don't know what they have got so it will be a challenge for us."

What the 1-5 (0-3 SEC) Wildcats have currently got is a four-game losing streak that included a 12-7 loss to South Carolina in a game the Gamecocks pulled out a victory in the final minute. The Tigers and Wildcats have not played a common opponent this season.

Auburn, which is 4-0 in SEC play, has a two-game lead in the SEC West and can take another step towards clinching the division title with a victory over the Wildcats. Rogers says his team will be on guard to avoid an upset loss on Saturday.

"We have kept our focus when playing teams like Louisiana Tech so we won't lose it playing a conference game vs. Kentucky," he says. "It is another opportunity to work together and get better as a football team."

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