Senior Dealing With Football Frustration

It's been a tough fall for one of Auburn's key senior players.

Auburn, Ala.--Steven Ross uses the word "frustrating" to describe his senior season and it is not difficult to understand why.

The year began with the offensive lineman doing intensive rehab after having major knee surgery late last season. He missed winter workouts and spring practice, but based on his previous experience he was expected to become a full-time starter for the first time in his career.

The versatile fifth-year senior has played guard, tackle and tight end for the Tigers and was playing very well as a center last year when he went down with an injury.

After making a strong comeback from knee surgery, he was running with the first team in preseason when he was sidelined again with a hip flexor injury. That gave an opening for walk-on Joe Cope to move into the starter's spot, a position he kept for the first five games.

However, based on the way Ross played in a relief role vs. South Carolina, offensive line coach Hugh Nall named the senior the starter for this week's game at Arkansas. Now that is in doubt after Ross reinjured his hip in practice last week and he wasn't ready to go when the Tigers returned to the practice on Sunday for a full pads, contact workout.

"It is pretty frustrating because you have an off-week and you try to get ready for this SEC stretch and then you have a setback," Ross says. "I am trying to get back healthy."

Ross re-injured the hip at Wednesday's practice and sat out on Thursday to give him three straight days of rest with the Tigers taking Friday and Saturday off with no game until this week's first road trip of the year to Arkansas. "I am just working toward trying to get back this week," he notes.

"It is just one of those things that I have to deal with and try to get back out there as soon as possible," the senior from Nashville adds.

The Tigers are 2-0 in the SEC and 4-1 overall. Looking at the offense, he says, "We are still trying to get better. We had a pretty good game against South Carolina. It was the first game we really felt like we were hitting more of our plays than we had in the past games.

"We hit some low spots in some other games," Ross adds. "We would play sharp and then kind of fall off. It was one of the first games we played consistently pretty much overall."

Steven Ross (74) graded 94 percent overall on 34 plays last week vs. South Carolina and was 100 percent on assignments.

Two years ago, when the Tigers made their last trip to Razorback Stadium, Ross played tight end for the Tigers. "I remember it was pretty loud out there," he says of the game in which the Tigers won 10-3. "That is always a big thing in SEC road games, or any big conference for that matter, in having to deal with the crowd factor. Out there the fans are right on top of the field."

Ross will have another day off from practice on Monday to rehab his hip before the Tigers return to practice on Tuesday. The team will fly to Fayetteville on Friday for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Saturday.

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