Tiger Center Learning to Cope Vs. SEC Foes

Auburn junior Joe Cope talks about the progression he is making at the center position.

Auburn, Ala.—With a heavy workload of game repetitions this season, Joe Cope has quickly progressed from a undersized, walk-on center to an undersized, walk-on center who has laid claim to a starting role who can stand toe-to-toe and battle with the some of the best defensive linemen in the country.

However, Cope notes that he doesn't have the luxury of putting much thought into his progression. "Really and truly, I just try and look at it like I am here now," he explains. "All of that stuff off an on in the past, that is over with. I am here and I have got to do my job.

"I am starting on this team now and I have got to continue to get better," the center continues. "I can't let the guys down. I can't ever look at being a walk-on as an excuse for anything. I really don't ever look at that anymore. I just look at it as I am a member of the Auburn Tigers and that is all there is to it right there."

Although he knows that he doesn't have the time to sit back and marvel at the progress he has made in the past few months, he says he can certainly tell that his level of play is on the rise, especially after the way he played against a very talented LSU team.

"It feels good anytime you are successful in what you are doing, you know," he says. "I had a few plays where I was unsuccessful, but overall I felt like I played a pretty good game and it just gives you a little more confidence. You build on every game, just thinking that you can get better and better every game."

Heading into the game with the Bengal Tigers, the questions were certainly out there about Cope's ability to handle the Tigers' vaunted defensive tackle, Kyle Williams, one-on-one.

However, Cope says those were questions for other people, not himself. "You don't ever doubt yourself," he notes. "You don't ever want to think that this man across from me is going to whoop me. You have got to have a little pride in yourself. So, I wasn't thinking that he was just going to whoop me every play. I believed in myself and I went out there and got the job done."

He adds that even though he played well against the All-SEC defensive tackle, Williams' talent and skill were easily as good as advertised. "He is everything you have heard of," the auburn junior lineman notes. "He is one of the best in the country. He is aggressive, his motor doesn't stop, he uses his hands real well on pass rush and gets off the ball on run plays. He is a good player. He is a real good player."

Joe Cope has quickly become a key to the Tigers' success on the offensive line.

Despite the fact that Auburn came up on the wrong end of the scoreboard on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, Cope says that games like that are what SEC football is all about.

"That is what you practice for," he explains. "That is what you work hard during the summers for. That is what you prepare for. That is what you lift weights for, when you go against the best like that. You just hope all your training and everything like that will help you out to be successful, but it was just one of those times where we came up short in the end, but it was a battle the whole entire time."

Even though he has made significant strides already this season, Cope admits that he has still got work to do. "I have got to be more consistent," he says. "If you take away two or three plays here in this game, and it is like that the whole entire season, if I can just take away those plays then I will feel like I have a complete game."

"I have just got to keep working my feet on pass plays, shoot my hands better on run plays and just communicate," he adds. "In an environment like that it is all on me to get the calls out there and tell everybody what to do and the defense and stuff. I am the one who has got to do that. I have just got to start talking a little louder--I guess you could say."


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