Old 'Backer, New 'Backer Have New Assignment

Auburn, Ala.--After sitting out last week with a turf toe injury to his right big toe, senior middle linebacker Travis Williams is looking forward to a new week and new challenge in trying to stop the option rushing attack of Western Kentucky.

Though Auburn is certainly expected to be the more physical team in the trenches against the I-AA Hilltoppers, Williams says that the option attack puts more pressure on the front seven than most other offensive schemes.

"It's going to be a faster paced game because they try to get you on the corners," he says. "You see it in high school a lot and the reason why you run it in high school is because the guys get confused and don't do their jobs.

"It puts a lot of pressure on the defensive ends," Williams notes. "There are a lot of things they have to think about and do like staying at home, staying square, reading the quarterback, and knowing who has got the quarterback and who has got pitch."

Western Kentucky, ranked No. 1 in the country, pounded West Virginia Tech for 451 yards on the ground in a 63-3 season opening win. Behind tailback Lerron Moore, the Hilltoppers added 193 rushing yards in a 23-21 win over Eastern Kentucky.

While that kind of rushing attack will test Auburn's defensive ends mentally, Williams says it changes the mentality of the middle linebackers as well.

"We just have to play smart as a defense and have everybody doing their job," he says. "There is no team out there that is going to physically beat us. We need to do our assignments and for the mike linebacker that means run inside out to the ball. That is why you don't see too much option in the NFL because all of the guys know their assignments."

Travis Williams was a first team All-SEC selection as a junior.]

In 2003, Auburn held the Hilltoppers to 47 yards on 28 carries while holding the WKU offense to 136 total yards in a 48-3 win. If all 11 Auburn defenders do their job this time around, it should make for an winning day and give backup middle linebacker Chris Evans a chance to shine.

"Chris is like my little brother," Williams says. "That's my roommate when we go to LaGrange (on Friday nights before home games). I try to share all of my knowledge with him because he is going to be the future and a great player.

"He's a little shorter, but he has the weight at about 220," Williams adds. "Sideline to sideline, running to the ball, wanting to hit--he's a perfect fit for a middle linebacker. He has got the instincts of a middle linebacker. He is not always right every time, but he's always around the ball.?

<>Chris Evans (59) chases Carl Stewart in practice.

Evans was a "grayshirt" last fall before enrolling at AU as a full-time student in January, which makes him a true freshman this season. He got his first collegiate action against Mississippi State two games ago, and tallied three solo tackles. He also recorded another solo against Ball State, which was nearly a sack.

"He's got to continue to learn and listen to Coach Whitt--Coach Whitt has been in the game a long time--and just try to do everything I do," Williams says of Evans. "I don't do everything right, but I try to and I know all of the younger guys are watching. First and foremost you have to take Coach Whitt and learn from watching the guys in front of you and in the reps you get.

"Down the road in the SEC you're going to have injuries here and there and you're going to need somebody to step up," he adds. "It's always good for them to get the reps they need."

Kickoff for Saturday's homecoming contest at Jordan-Hare Stadium is set for 1:30 p.m. CST. The game will not be televised, but tickets are still available.

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