SEC Back of the Week Gearing Up For LSU

Auburn, Ala.--Kenny Irons says he wasn't concerned when he lost his starting job to freshman Brad Lester last week and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., it was obvious why.

Irons figured he would still get plenty of opportunities to carry the football from the tailback position. In Auburn's 34-17 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks, the junior got 33 carries and finished with 182 rushing yards.

That performance was good enough to earn the transfer from the University of South Carolina SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. For the season, Irons is averaging 5.8 yards per carry as he has rushed 87 times for 501 yards with five touchdowns.

"It was a lot of fun," Irons said of his first road game for the Tigers. "Those guys can hit pretty hard, but it is no big problem. I am pretty sore."

It isn't surprising that Irons is a bit sore. He hadn't seen as much action carrying the football since he was a highly regarded senior running back at Dacula, Ga., High. However, he got plenty of opportunities to carry the football after Lester suffered a groin injury in the first quarter and Auburn decided to attack an aggressive, blitzing Arkansas defense by getting physical with the running game.

Irons says he thought the Tigers passed their first road test with high marks and notes it was an interesting Saturday night at Razorback Stadium.

"Usually, we have the fans on our side to get us pumped up and to get us excited, but this time they were against us," he notes. "We were being booed out there."

Auburn fell behind 10-6 at halftime, but dominated play in the third and fourth quarters to clear the stadium early. However, before that Irons notes that the hometown fans were really trying to rattle the Auburn players.

"The stands were right behind our bench and that was pretty weird," he says, noting that he could hear individual fans yelling at him and his teammates. "It was an exciting game. Our offensive line did a great job."

Big holes in the Arkansas defense allowed Irons to rush for the most yards by a Tiger back since Carnell Williams netted 202 vs. Alabama in 2003.

Kenny Irons runs past a Razorback on Saturday night in Fayetteville.

The Tigers will play their second road game of the season at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday at LSU. AU is 3-0 in the SEC and will face the Bayou Bengals, who are 3-1 in the conference with the only loss coming to Tennessee.

Irons played in Baton Rouge as a South Carolina Gamecock. "I know it is loud and when you come out of the locker room they have this big tiger sitting there just roaring," he says. "Some people it shocks them. I know my first time seeing it I said, ‘Whoa.'"

The junior tailback says the key to success for his team is to do the same things his team did in Fayetteville. "We have to work together and fight together--be one."

Against Arkansas, the offense overcame a blitz-happy, aggressive defense that tried to rattle quarterback Brandon Cox in his first college road start. After a slow start, the sophomore came back to pass for three touchdowns.

"I don't think they are going to blitz us as much as Arkansas," says Irons, whose 182 yards is the most by an SEC back this season. "I think they are going to trust their defense more than Arkansas. I don't think they are going to blitz, but if they do we are going to be prepared because Coach Gran (running backs coach Eddie Gran), Coach Tub (head coach Tommy Tuberville) and Coach Borges (offensive coordinator Al Borges) are going to get us ready for it."

Tuberville says although his team played well at Arkansas, this challenge will be tougher vs. LSU. The head coach says Auburn must play better to win in Baton Rouge.

Irons agrees it is going to be a tough game at LSU, but notes his team is improving. "I believe everybody is mature," he says. "We are getting better each week."


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