McClover Anxious To Get Back On The Field

Defensive end Stanley McClover talks about recovering from an ankle injury and the frustration of watching from the sidelines.

Auburn, Ala.-–For defensive end Stanley McClover the last two weeks have been the toughest of his career.

Expected to be a force at defensive end for the Tigers in his first season as a full-time starter, instead he's been forced to watch from the sidelines with an bruised ankle suffered from a cut block during the Georgia Tech game while the team earned wins over Mississippi State and Ball State. He says that not being able to play has been a very hard pill for him to swallow.

"It's real tough," McClover says. "I tried to go the Mississippi State game and I realized I couldn't play. It's just tough because I'm not used to sitting on the sidelines and watching. It's something you have to get used to, but you just have to take it as a blessing in disguise and keep rolling.

"Hopefully, I can stay healthy for the rest of the year. I don't want to have to do this again because we've got a tough schedule coming up, all SEC games. I want to be 100 percent for all of those games."

"I have never been hurt this much before," McClover adds. "So it has been kind of frustrating. I just keep praying and asking just to get better. This is a stepping stone that I have to step over. I'm just going to try my best to stay healthy."

McClover's addition would be a big plus for Auburn's defense as the Tigers head into the meat of the schedule.

With McClover on the sidelines the Tigers shuffled around some players at defensive end with Christopher Browder getting the start on the weakside with Quentin Groves also seeing some action at the position. McClover says that the duo along with Marquies Gunn on the strongside played well in his absence and he was just glad to help out in any way while out of service.

"Whenever you're out and sitting on the sidelines it is an advantage in a way," McClover says. "I get to help out Quentin and Browder and Gunn and all those guys with things they might not be seeing, but I can see on the field because I'm watching. It's not a bad experience, you just have to know what you're doing and keep your head focused. I just help them out whenever I see something and just give them some pointers. It works out pretty good.

"They're getting better with every game that goes by," McClover adds. "That's a really good thing with our defense, we never stay the same, we always get better. We never decline, we always get better. I'm really proud of those guys. Browder stepped up to the starting position and he went out there and took care of business."

McClover took a step towards getting back on the field when he survived the running test from Auburn trainer Arnold Gamber on Tuesday. McClover says that he felt good after making it through the day.

"It felt a lot better today," McClover says. "I had to go through two days of running with Arnold again. I made it through it and I'll be back practicing (Wednesday). It just feels real good.

"I feel like I'm pretty close," McClover adds. "By the end of the week I should be better. I got treatment three times (Tuesday). I'm working real hard to get it back to 100 percent. It's like an aggravating feeling when I run. It has been getting better the last couple of weeks. By Saturday I should be good."

With McClover back the Tigers should be in good shape to handle the offensive system they'll see Saturday from Western Kentucky. One of the top option teams in the country, regardless of division, the Hilltoppers present a challenge for the defensive line and, in particular, the defensive ends. McClover says this week is more about knowing what to do and being disciplined than overpowering or being more physical than your opponent.

"This is a big mental week for us," McClover says. "Western Kentucky is going to teach us to think. We're going to have to use our mind with our abilities. We just have to play everything, use our keys and be smart athletes out there.

"The option is just a way to slow your defense down whenever you have an aggressive defense," McClover adds. "Teams that run the option you really don't like that too much. It's football so whatever they throw at us we have to be ready for it."

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