Linebacker Coming Easier For Herring

Auburn senior Will Herring talks about his first game at linebacker and getting prepared for Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--It didn't take long this season for senior Will Herring to show his stuff at linebacker for the Auburn Tigers.

A three-year starter at safety, the Opelika native moved to strongside linebacker in the spring and made his first start at the position Saturday night against Washington State.

All he did was earn the coaching staff's defensive MVP for the week with his play in Auburn's 40-10 victory over the Cougars. Herring says once he got into the rhythm of the game things went pretty smoothly for both himself and the defense as a whole in Coach Will Muschamp's first game as defensive coordinator.

"It felt really good to finally get out there and play somebody that wasn't wearing orange and blue," Herring says. "We had a lot of fun getting some experience at linebacker. It was obviously a big experience for me.

"I was a bit uncomfortable early in the game, but worked through it. Luckily we had other guys stepping up. The D-line got pressure with just four guys. When they do that we can play zone coverage a lot and sit back and cover our guys.

"I think we had some busts and mistakes, but overall everything was good," Herring says of the defense. "One thing he's (Muschamp) always harped on is to go out there and play with great effort and intensity. The mistakes, he takes the blame for them. We'll go back to the chalkboard this week. We've already corrected some of them and we'll continue to get better."

Herring returns an interception against Washington State last week.

Helping out Herring on the field last week was fellow senior Karibi Dede. With Kevin Sears and Tray Blackmon out because of suspensions, Dede is Auburn's most experienced linebacker and also one of its smarter players along with Herring. Because of that Herring says that having Dede on the field makes the defense stronger.

"It helps out a lot," Herring says. "He's a leader out there on the field. He's a vocal leader on the sidelines and in the games. Him being out there helps the communication. We were in nickel package the other day a lot and he bumped up to mike and did a great job for us."

This time around the Tigers will play more of a traditional 4-3 look against a Mississippi State offense that has been decimated with injuries recently. Herring says with a new quarterback playing this week they expect the Bulldogs to come out and try to be physical on offense and they're getting ready for that in practice this week.

"We'll see a totally different personnel package," Herring says. "We'll see a lot more 21 (two backs and one tight end) and 12 (one back and two tight ends) personnel and they might even go two backs and two tight ends. It will be more of a ground game. That's their style of ball. It will be a lot more physical game."

In a game deemed a mismatch by the odds-makers around the country, Auburn is considered a big favorite against the Bulldogs in Saturday morning's 11:30 a.m. matchup on Lincoln Financial Sports TV stations. Herring says although the game looks lopsided going into the contest he expects nothing but the best from Mississippi State on Saturday.

"The guys that have played Mississippi State know that if you come out and let them hang around it will bite you," Herring says. "The more they stick around the more they are going to believe.

"They're going to come out early and ready to play. I think if we can come out fast it will take the wind out of them early if we play like we're capable of. They're a great ball club and they're physical and have a bunch of athletes. Anytime you face someone like that you have to come ready to play."

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