McClover And Tigers Continue Preparations For Tide

Defensive end Stanley McClover and coach Tommy Tuberville talk about getting ready for Alabama and what this game means.

Auburn, Ala.–-When the Auburn Tigers (10-0, 7-0) square off against Alabama (6-4, 3-4) Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, one of the players that everyone will keep a close eye on is Auburn sophomore defensive end Stanley McClover. Currently tied for the SEC lead in sacks at seven and a half with teammate Quentin Groves and Georgia's David Pollack, McClover has come a long way, but said that he's still got a lot to prove beginning this weekend against Alabama.

"I'll never be where I want to be, but I feel like my game is getting better every week," McClover says. "There is no limit to what I can accomplish, I just have to keep working hard and keep playing how I'm playing and things will look up."

In his first season of playing after sitting out last year because NCAA academic questions concerning his high school work, McClover has wasted little time in adjusting to the college game. He said that while he's been able to make plays, the toughest part of the game is worrying about doing your job and staying within the flow of the defense.

"You can have all the physical skills in the world, but in our type of defense you have a lot of responsibilities and you have to do a lot of things within the defense," McClover said. "A lot of us were big time coming out of high school and you got to do what you want to do, but now you have a system where you have a responsibility within the defense. That makes it a little harder. You have to learn all your plays and the gameplans. Everything is real serious."

Stanley McClover

For McClover the learning process will never be complete, but getting on the field against Alabama will make his first regular season a complete one and a complete success if the Tigers come away with a win. Since watching the game last year from the sidelines the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native said that he's been waiting for his chance to play in the Iron Bowl ever since.

"I'm anxious," McClover said. "After watching it last year and seeing all the excitement and the fun they were having out there on the field, it's a big game and a big rivalry game for Auburn and I'm ready to be a part of that. I was on the outside looking in and I've been ready to play this game since last year."

Much like former Dillard High teammate Junior Rosegreen, McClover has quickly embraced the Auburn spirit and a love for the university. That is apparent when talking to the speedy defensive end about the Alabama game and the meaning of it for him.

"I knew I was sent to Auburn for a reason and I believe this is why," McClover said. "I just picked the right time to come and be able to play my first year. With us going 10-0 right now and playing good, I know how hard we worked to get here. I'll never forget about that. I always sit around and think that my first year has turned out to be a good one."

McClover and the Tigers continued the hard work with a two hour practice in shorts and helmets Wednesday evening inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Coach Tommy Tuberville said he's been pleased with the effort and concentration the team has shown heading into the Iron Bowl as the Tigers have continued to by physical in practice despite heading into the 11th game of the season.

"We had an inside drill and a practice day just like we did the first week of the season," Tuberville said. "We had a lot of contact. We still do individual drills and we're still trying to get better. We've got a lot of room for improvement. We've still got two months of the season left so we'll keep banging them around. There's always a chance of getting somebody hurt, but you don't get better unless you practice. We've pulled back on the weight lifting and the running and we only go in full pads one day a week, but we've got a lot left and getting better."

Tuberville said that center Jeremy Ingle appears to be better this week than last week at this time after returning from an ankle injury. Ingle took every snap in Wednesday's practice and should be fine for Saturday's game. Auburn's injury situation is very good heading into the Alabama game with every regular taking part in the practice.

Because of the injury situation at quarterback with recent starter Spencer Pennington banged up and his back-up Mark Guillon also hurt, Tuberville said he expects to see wide receiver Tyrone Prothro in the game some under center and they've prepared for that by putting redshirted freshman Anthony Campbell at quarterback on the scout team. One of the most dangerous players on Alabama's team in terms of his ability to make plays in special teams and on offense, Tuberville said Auburn would just have to be aware of where Prothro's lined up at all times on Saturday.

"You just play your defense and know where he's at," Tuberville said. "Knowing that they'll do several things. I'm sure this week we'll get some option plays, but we've worked on all of it. I'm sure they've got a passing play of two for him. With all of their quarterbacks banged up I'm sure that he's gotten more reps there than he's ever gotten."

Auburn's special teams have been a big key to the success of the team this season and it's something that the Tigers work on constantly in practice. Wednesday they again concentrated on that part of the game with John Vaughn perfect on the day in field goals. Tuberville said he feels like his team is ready to play after another good day of practice.

"We've had real good practices the last two days," he said. "Everybody has practiced 100 percent. We've got a good gameplan and we got a lot of good work on special teams today. We worked in the stadium again today to get a more game like atmosphere. Tomorrow we'll go through our gameplan like we did today and get all the hay in the barn."

Auburn will practice again on Thursday in the stadium before heading out of town on Friday. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. and can be seen nationally on CBS television.

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