One of the key members of the group, junior guard Ben Grubbs, says that he and the Tiger offensive line hope to be difference-makers when they take the field on Saturday going for a fourth consecutive victory in the Iron Bowl rivalry.
Growing up in Ecelectic and attending Elmore County High, the Auburn lineman has a good feel for the Tigers vs. Tide rivalry. "Being from Alabama and having a lot of family members that you see on a regular basis who are Alabama fans--and I was one growing up until I converted--it is kind of big," he says.
"You take it kind of personal because I know a lot of players on Alabama. Freddie Roach, he was my host on my recruiting visit when I went up there. I know them and they know me. I guess that makes it more intense and brings more excitement to the game."
Offensive line coach Hugh Nall says that Grubbs and the rest of the offensive front are improving. "We are just doing what we have been coached to do," the junior guard says. "We have been running the ball pretty good and had more than 200 yards rushing in a couple of our games. That will be a big key on Saturday.
"Even if we don't have 200 yards rushing, if we establish the running game early that will help us out," Grubbs adds. "It will also help the passing game. We want to be fundamentally sound and go out there and have fun."
Ben Grubbs (69) is in his second season as a starter.
Grubbs and the Auburn offense will face a major test from a Tide team that is ranked number one nationally in scoring defense, allowing opponents only 9.1 points per game. "I think their defense is one of the best, if not the best," he says. They are very quick up front.
"Their linebackers and secondary, they are awesome. Freddie (Roach), (Juwan) Simpson and 35 (Demeco Ryans), you can't say enough about him, they are great. It makes it fun because it brings us a challenge. I think we are all up for a challenge. Being an old rivalry, I don't think we need any more motivation for this game so just go out there and play hard."
Grubbs has developed into an effective pulling guard who makes blocks on the corners for the Tiger running backs. "Pulling is kind of advantage for me and Tim Duckworth," he says. "Coming to Auburn as defensive players, we have to have some quicks to us and we are pretty fast. When we get out there and get our shoulders up field and start running, that is not good for the DBs so I think that I have gotten a lot better."
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on Saturday as the 8-2 Tigers, ranked 11th nationally, take on a Tide team that is 9-1 overall. Both teams are 6-1 in SEC games and the winner still has a shot to reach the SEC Championship Game if LSU loses of its remaining two games vs. Ole Miss and Arkansas.