Dunn Looking For Healthy Rotation

Defensive tackles coach Don Dunn discusses his players' effort against Washington State and a rotation for Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--Despite having only a four-man rotation at two of the most physically demanding positions on the field, coach Don Dunn says the opener against Washington State was a "pretty good game" for the interior defensive linemen.

Josh Thompson was the starter at noseguard and Sen'Derrick Marks at defensive tackle, but Pat Sims had the most snaps of any of the group with 43 because he can play both positions. Thompson had 36 snaps, Marks had 41 and backup noseguard Tez Doolittle played nine snaps.

"I thought all three of them played pretty well--Pat, Josh and Sen'Derrick Marks," Dunn says. "Tez didn't play as much, but he played well when he was in there. We played a lot of nickel and dime so we had what we consider our best pass rushers, which would be Pat and Sen'Derrick. I was pleased overall."

Dunn is searching for a fifth player heading into the first road game of the season this Saturday against Mississippi State. Typically five tackles make the travel squad, but nothing has been decided as of yet, the coach says. Dunn notes that junior college transfer Greg Smith isn't ready physically after reporting late, which means that true freshman Jermarcus Ricks will likely make the trip to Starkville.

"If he (Ricks) works hard all week," Dunn says. "I don't know who is going yet. I would think he would be though unless something drastic happens."

Josh Thompson got his first collegiate sack on the first play of the game against the Cougars.

Dunn singled out Sims for his effort and production in the first game even though Sims hasn't played anywhere close to that many snaps since high school nearly three years ago. Marks also had a solid game and showed his athletic ability in the open field a couple of times, including once when he broke up a screen pass that likely would have been a huge play for Washington State.

"I read the screen real good," Marks says. "I went up to tip it back to myself because I didn't want to get pass interference. It slipped out of my hands."

The Tigers didn't have that same natural athletic ability last year at the three technique, but Marks could have the potential to blossom into the same type of player as former Tiger and current Dallas Cowboy Jay Ratliff.

"He's a long way from where Jay is," Dunn says of Marks. "Hopefully, he'll be that big and strong, but I see a lot of the same characteristics with his hips and quickness. Sen'Derrick has real long arms. I don't know if you've noticed that, like on that screen play he looked like a basketball player."

Marks averaged 22 rebounds per basketball game as a senior at Vigor High School in 2004-2005.

Sen'Derrick Marks and the rest of the Tiger defensive front will be working to "finish strong" this week.

"We've got to keep working," Dunn says. "It's going to be a whole different deal this week. It's going to be smash-mouth, a lot bigger, SEC. We've got young guys who have never traveled and never been in that environment. So it's going to take a lot more effort this week than it did last week."

Marks says he is looking forward to a physical test in Starkville. "They are going to be a real running team. I am going to have to get ready for the big guys pounding."

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