Ingle, Seniors Excited About Championship Game

Senior center Jeremy Ingle is expected to play a key role for the Tigers as they face Tennessee on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Few players on the Auburn football team appreciated the extra week off prior to the SEC Championship Game more than senior Jeremy Ingle.

The starting center used the time during the Thanksgiving break at the university to work on healing his high ankle sprain that he has played with in the past two games vs. Georgia and Alabama.

"I feel pretty good," Ingle tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "My ankle is one of those things that is not going to heal until the end of the season. It is probably 85 to 90 percent now. The Georgia game was really tough on me. Alabama wasn't that bad."

Ingle and the Tigers are looking to win the first SEC Championship for an Auburn football team since 1989 when they take on Tennessee at 5 p.m. CST at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Saturday. Ingle, who has been steady all season in his first year as a starter, has played a key role in his team's 11-0 record.

"It is just a real cool feeling to be a part of this group of seniors," he says. "We have guys like Carnell (tailback Carnell Williams) and Ronnie (tailback Ronnie Brown) who could be playing in the league (NFL) this year and a few others who could have quit, but we have 18 guys who have stuck it out through the good times and the bad times. To have all this hard work come to fruition and have a chance to play Tennessee for the SEC Championship is really exciting."

Auburn put a 34-10 whipping on the Vols at Neyland Stadium on Oct. 2nd. To Ingle, that was a very important game for the team, especially the offense. "After that game, we knew we were the real deal," Ingle says. "We have progressed and gotten better week after week."

Auburn jumped to a 31-3 halftime lead in the first meeting with the Vols. Ingle remembers that as a special night. "Their stadium was real loud," he says. "We had a tough time with the noise so we had to go on a silent count."

Ingle says he remembers the Volunteers being fired up about the game as they tried to avenge a 2003 loss to the Tigers. However, Auburn played an emotional game, too, and didn't let the crowd or the home team cause them any problems.

"We went out there with a little fire in our belly and went out there and played hard and got them on the ropes," Ingle says. "Once we did that we kept going at them hard and before you knew it we were up on them big at halftime. We were just firing on all cylinders that game. We were running it and throwing it--pretty much did whatever we wanted to that game. I am sure it is going to be different this time."

Ingle says he is glad the game will be weather-proof as the Tigers play in an indoor stadium for the first time this year. "That is a definite plus," the center says. "I hate playing in the wet and cold. I am really happy it is in the dome."

In the rematch, Ingle says the offense needs to establish the running game early against the Vols. "We are going to have to run the ball and when you do that you are going to set up your play-action. They have a pretty good run defense. They have a really good defensive line. We have to get out there and get after them. The main thing is coming off the ball and pushing them back."

Ingle, who is wearing a band-aid on his nose this week while still healing from a cut suffered in the Alabama game, says it has been fun watching the Tigers develop on offense this season under the direction of first-year coordinator Al Borges.

Ingle, shown in spring training, won the starting center job at center this year after originally coming to AU as a walk-on defensive lineman.

"We had a really good spring on offense," he notes. "I knew our potential on offense was really high. I remember us beating our defense. I didn't know exactly how good we were or if our defense was bad. Looking at our defense play throughout the season, you would have to say our offense is pretty good.

"We were firing on all cylinders and Coach Borges was an unbelievable play caller and you could tell it back then. We were fired up about what we were doing and it is fun to play with him. He is always throwing in a new wrinkle every week--something you would have never thought of.

"Our defense has come out and played unbelievably well this year," Ingle adds. "Hands down, they are the best defense we have faced this year."

Ingle says that he and his teammates remember Tennessee players vowing that they would be in Atlanta to play the Tigers in a rematch and the outcome would be different the second time around. "You heard (UT linebacker) Kevin Burnett," Ingle says. "He said they were better than us so he will have a shot again."

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