Taylor Hoping For Happy Homecoming

Sophomore wide receiver Courtney Taylor talks about Saturday's game with Alabama and playing close to home.

Auburn, Ala.–-The Auburn-Alabama rivalry is one that is special to players on both sides of the ball this week. One player who is particularly excited about this Saturday's game is Auburn wide receiver Courtney Taylor.

Growing up just outside of Tuscaloosa in Carrollton, Taylor says that when the two teams square off in the Iron Bowl this weekend he'll have plenty of relatives dressed in red and white.

"It's huge for me," Taylor says. "Probably 90 percent of my family are Alabama fans. I have converted half of them over the years. Last year I played in the game and I was so excited, but I didn't score. That's my goal this year. I'm going to try to score for the home fans."

Taylor runs for yardage against Ole Miss earlier this year.

That may be a problem this week for Taylor and the Tigers as they prepare to face the nation's top pass defense in Alabama. Although Auburn has been successful this season throwing the ball, averaging 229.9 yards per game through the air, Alabama is allowing a meager 105.8 yards per game. Taylor says that watching them on film is impressive and is going to be a challenge for Auburn's improving offense this week.

"I'm excited to go against them," Taylor says. "I know a couple of guys in the secondary. It's going to be fun for me just for bragging rights when I go home. I'm excited to go against those guys. You have to give them respect because they're the number one pass defense in the nation. From what I've seen they're pretty impressive. They play man-to-man pretty good and compete for the ball.

"They try to disrupt you a lot," he adds. "They try to disrupt the timing between you and your quarterback. Most of them try to put their hands on you a little bit. They play pretty good man to man defense. We're going to have our hands full, but you have to stand up to the challenge each and every week."

Something that should help Auburn is the continued improvement of the offense as a whole under coordinator Al Borges. Known for his innovative styles and successful offenses dating back to his days coaching players like Cade McNown at UCLA, Borges has brought out the best in Auburn's offensive players because of his confidence in the offense and what it's capable of doing.

"To me that goes a long way with the players knowing that this guy is going to put the time in, he's going to stay up here all day and all night to put us in the best position to make plays," Taylor says. "You have to love it. We keep improving each and every game. We're not taking a step back, we just keep getting better. You're just excited to see what that guy has coming up each week."

Something that defenses have to try to plan for each week is a variety of new things the Tigers throw at opponents. Several times this season Auburn has caught teams off guard with trick plays and new plays, such as the flea flicker for a touchdown this season against Arkansas. It could be something as simple as running the quick pitch against Georgia, but Taylor says that whatever it is it makes the players excited because you never know when your number will be called during the game.

"Most of the time you get excited because you're thinking whatever play he's going to come up with is going to you," Taylor says. "Every week it's something different, as you can tell on the pass from Carnell (Carnell Williams) to Mix (Anthony Mix) and back in the Arkansas game with the flea flicker play. You just get excited because you wonder if he's going to give you a trick play. You get so excited because every new week is something new."

If Taylor and the Tigers take care of business this weekend the team will again experience something new and that would be a perfect season. Auburn hasn't had a perfect year since 1993, but that season ended after a victory over Alabama because of probation. This season the Tigers have a shot at the big prize and if they succeed you can bet that Taylor will be in the middle of things.


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