The head coach says that junior Marquies Gunn should see a great deal of playing time this fall.
Despite a setback with a hamstring injury that sidelined Gunn for a significant portion of preseason drills, the junior is full speed now and looks ready to be a major contributor on Saturday night when the Tigers open the season vs. Georgia Tech. On Monday, he was named the starter at strongside defensive end.
"He has done well," says Terry Price, who coaches Auburn's defensive ends. "He has a had lot of memory recognition as far as techniques and assignments are concerned. He has come back in good shape for how long he has been out of action, about three weeks.
"He is playing well--very well," Price adds. "He has been doing that since the last week of spring practices and he continued to play well into two-a-days when he got hurt. I hate that he got hurt, but he really came back and he is still playing at a really good level even though he has some rust to knock off.
"He has really made a big step," Price adds. "I am proud of the way he has been playing. Without a doubt, he is playing a whole lot better than he did at this time last year. I am excited at the progress he has made. He still has a whole lot of work to do, but he is getting better."
Marquies Gunn is bigger and stronger this season and has moved ahead of Quentin Groves on the depth chart.
Tuberville notes that in some practices, particularly early in preseason works, Gunn was the most impressive defensive end on the field, playing better than highly-regarded teammates Quentin Groves and Stanley McClover.
"I feel like I have gotten better in everything I am doing on the football field," Gunn says. "The extra size is helping me."
Gunn, who is up to 258 pounds, has gained 51 pounds since arriving at Auburn as a quick pass-rushing defensive end from Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City. He had just seven tackles in 2003 as a true freshman and 14 last year with three sacks. Those numbers should increase significantly with the Tigers having to replace last year's starting ends, Bret Eddins and Doug Langenfeld.
Gunn puts pressure on Kentucky's quarterback last year as a sophomore.
"I feel like like I can have a big year," Gunn tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "Since I only have two more seasons left it is important for me to do more so I can have a chance to move on to the next level."
Gunn says he feels good about his current size. His coaches note that he has worked hard in the weight room to gain size and extra muscle, which has helped him become more effective at stopping the run. "It is a real good weight for me," he notes. "I can still run in the low 4.5s"
With the 2004 starters gone, Tuberville says that having Gunn turn into a key player up front is a key to success for the 2005 defense. "We are counting on him to be effective stopping the run."
Gunn is upbeat about the potential for Auburn's defense this season. "I think we are going to be real good on defense this year," he says. "I think everybody is going to come out and execute and get the job done."