Fullback Hoping It's Gamecock Slaughter Time

Fullback Jake Slaughter talks about this Saturday's meeting with South Carolina and the state of the offense heading into the contest.

Auburn, Ala.-–After two weeks of non-conference games that barely got the pulse going for the Auburn Tigers, this weekend the South Carolina Gamecocks come to town as they get back into Southeastern Conference action. Senior fullback Jake Slaughter says that it's easy to tell when a conference game is on the schedule by the activity and attitude during the week.

"It's a lot more exciting and a lot more to practice for," Slaughter says. "You can tell in practice by everybody's attitude that it's a different week and a big week for us. We're all a lot more excited, a lot more ready to play."

Last weekend Slaughter and his offensive teammates had to pick up the slack as starting quarterback Brandon Cox missed the Western Kentucky game because of a virus. With redshirt freshman Blake Field inserted into the lineup, Slaughter says that the Tigers were forced to play physical football and it was an experience that should help the entire offense down the road.

"You learn a lot about the run offense," Slaughter says. "They were putting about 10 guys in the box. With eight, nine and 10 guys in the box we still ran pretty well. We learned a lot that if something happens, Blake did a really good job coming in and filling in. We've got some confidence in him now. Overall I think we learned a lot from the experience.

Slaughter has become a very good lead blocker for the Tigers from his fullback position.

Leaning on the running game meant leaning on Kenny Irons, Brad Lester and company. While Tre Smith and Carl Stewart were the veterans of the group coming into the season, Irons and Lester have shown big-play ability and production that has vaulted them to the top of the pack. Slaughter says that he's enjoying what both bring to the table in the running game so far this season and he's looking for even more success in the future.

"I have a lot of confidence in them," Slaughter says. "I think they have showed in two or three games that they have what it takes. They are quick, they hit the hole hard and they run real hard. I love that and I love blocking for guys like that. I definitely have confidence in them."

This weekend the Tigers get to bring what looks to be an improved running game against a defense that has struggled to stop anyone on the ground. South Carolina enters Saturday night's game allowing an average of 199 rushing yards per game, including 338 yards on the ground by Alabama in a 37-14 Crimson Tide win. Slaughter says that the Gamecocks will likely play more of a base defense this weekend against Auburn than they played earlier in the season.

"We've watched a little bit on them," Slaughter says. "They run a basic 4-3 and try to move around early. I think they've stopped doing that. They should match up well against us. We've been running against 30 defenses (3-4) and some of these weird defenses so I'm happy to be going against sort of a normal defense.

"I think it would probably play to our advantage a little bit (if they played the junk defense where players stand up and move around before the snap). They did that earlier on and teams were just gutting them with the run and the pass. I think they can't do that very well and if they tried to do it we could do the same thing earlier teams did to them."

Last season Auburn's fifth game was the one that the Tigers used to explode onto the scene against Tennessee in Knoxville. While the LSU game was very important a week earlier, against the Vols Auburn put it all together in a huge victory that sent shockwaves across the SEC. Heading into this year's fifth game Slaughter says he feels this team coming together much like the 2004 squad did and that would be good news for the Tigers with a tough stretch of road games coming up in the next month.

"I really am thinking the same thing," Slaughter says. "We've really gotten a lot better the last two games. It was hard to get excited for those two games, but we still got better and improved. Now we've got our quarterback back for this game. I think this is one of the games that we're going to come together. It's the SEC, it's big. We're going to show everybody what we've got."

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