Strong Start for Strongest Tiger

At around 6-0, 300 pounds, Josh "Stump" Thompson is difficult to match up with physically.

Auburn, Ala.--Going against a team that was successful offensively last season both passing the ball and running, holding the Washington State Cougars to 274 yards was an impressive opening night feat for the Auburn defense.

According to Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville, the Tigers had a goal of limiting the Cougars to less than 300 yards total offense, and junior noseguard Josh Thompson set the tone from the beginning.

Thompson was making his first collegiate start in replacement of T.J. Jackson, who signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons and made the roster for the 2006 season.

"I hope they gave me that sack on the first play," Thompson says. "That's my first sack. It just opened up for me and we were trying to put pressure on them early and make him scramble a little bit. He (Alex Brink) is a good scrambler, but we had to put it on him early and get it started."

Thompson's sack was followed by one from Quentin Groves two plays later and another by Christopher Browder to start the next series. Washington State was forced to change its game plan and only passed for 150 yards on the night.

"In the beginning of the game they weren't quick passing so much," Thompson says. "Toward the third quarter and fourth quarter he was taking a quick three-step drop and just hitting it over our heads. It looks like we weren't rushing so much. And they started cutting us, too, and we had to be cautious of that. Other than that is was just quick pass."

While getting pressure on the quarterback is nice for Thompson, who says he is "not a sack magician," his main goal on defense is being a run clog in the middle. Tuberville says that Thompson was successful in doing his part for the Auburn defense on opening night.

"Josh is a lot more aggressive than he was," notes Tuberville, who points out that the junior is probably Auburn's strongest player. "He really came off the ball and got the first sack. He really controlled the line of scrimmage in the middle and they had to start double-teaming him, which is what his position in about.

"If they're not double-teaming you, then you're not playing very good," the coach adds. "He was good on assignment, good on effort, but I think he can get better. He's got to get a push in the middle and he definitely did that."


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