Tide LB "Looking for the Shutout" At Auburn

Alabama star DeMeco Ryans says the Tide's goal is shutting down Auburn tailback Kenny Irons and the Auburn running attack.

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Alabama linebacker DeMeco Ryans, a semifinalist for the Butkus, Lombardi and Bednarik Awards, says that the Crimson Tide's number one goal Saturday will be shutting down Kenny Irons and the Auburn rushing attack.

Irons has rushed for more than 100 yards in seven of the last eight games, including 218 against LSU and 175 against Georgia in Auburn's two biggest games so far this season. However, Ryans says the Alabama defense is capable of stopping the Tigers' ground game.

"From the opening play we're hitting them in the mouth early and letting them know we're going to be there all day," Ryans says. "We have to stop their running game. We have to get them down on the ground and get him down early."

Irons leads the SEC with his 1,102 yards on the ground, but Ryans believes that he will be the second best back on the field Saturday.

"It gets me psyched up because ever since after the LSU game everyone has been yapping about Kenny Irons this, Kenny Irons this," Ryans says. "It does get me pumped up because everybody is hyping him up and everything and making him seem like he's the best running back in the league. We've got Darby (Kenneth Darby) and I think he's the best back."

DeMeco Ryans celebrates with Roman Harper during last year's game against Tennessee..

Even though Auburn leads the conference in scoring and total yardage by a large margin, Ryans says he'll have to wait until Saturday to call them the best offense they have faced.

"We'll see Saturday," he says. "There was a lot of speculation about LSU being the best offense we've seen. We're going in there looking for the shutout. We go into every game thinking shutout and that's what we want to do.

"I expect them to come in running the ball on us and just throw the ball up to their receivers and try to let them make plays," Ryans adds. "That's basically what they've been doing all right and I don't think they'll change much."

Growing up in Bessemer and graduating from Jess Lanier High School, Ryans wasn't recruited by Auburn and received a late offer from Alabama. During his time in Tuscaloosa he has since blossomed into one of the better defensive players in the country.

"I've never liked Auburn," he says. "If they were recruiting me or they weren't I still was always an Alabama fan and my heart was here. I got the opportunity to come here."

Even though Ryans has developed into one of the league's premiere players he has yet to beat Auburn and is looking forward to his last chance on Saturday.

"That's what I was thinking about right after the LSU, game," he says. "Going on four years and I've never beaten them. It's all I have been thinking about is beating Auburn.

"It means everything right now to go out, senior year, and end it with a win against Auburn," Ryans adds. "That means everything to me. We have to beat Auburn to put Alabama back on the map. We haven't beaten Auburn in about four years. We have to beat Auburn to put Alabama back where we need to be."

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