Friendly Competition: Irons Expects Real Test

Auburn, Ala.--David Irons says his biggest challenge of the season is just around the corner.

On Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium when his Auburn Tigers play host to LSU, the senior cornerback predicts he and his teammates will be tested.

"This is the best challenge we are going to face this year wide receiver-wise," says Irons, who notes that he expects to go head to head with Dwayne Bowe, one of the most productive wideouts in LSU football history.

"Me and Bowe are friends," Irons says. "We talk on the phone. He calls me before my games. I call him before his games."

In last year's 20-17 LSU win over Auburn in Baton Rouge, Bowe's 31-yard reception on an odd-looking play in the fourth quarter kept a drive alive in the final minutes to set up a field goal that allowed LSU to take the game into overtime. Irons deflected the pass, which bounced off his shoulder and then off the leg of Bowe, who grabbed it on the rebound.

"I told him because of that play is how it got to overtime," Irons says. "I told him we have unfinished business. It is going to be a battle between me and him out on the field.""

David Irons celebrates an interception in Auburn's 34-0 victory last Saturday at Mississippi State.

For this year's game, both teams will enter Saturday's contest with 2-0 records after winning their previous games by wide margins. This one is expected to be much tighter.

"They are a physical bunch and have speed," Irons says of LSU. "Their quarterback is big. If he gets out of the pocket and starts scrambling, he can throw the ball downfield."

Bowe, who is 6-3, 217 pounds, caught three passes for 57 yards vs. Auburn last year. However, he isn't the only talented LSU receiver. Craig Davis, a 6-2, 199 senior, caught three passes for 68 yards vs. Auburn and is a big-play threat along with 6-0, 206 junior Early Doucet.

Irons notes that he and Bowe spent time together this year in the offseason in the Atlanta area where Irons lives and in the Miami area where Bowe is from. Irons says that Bowe had praise for the cornerback's coverage ability. Irons has praise for Bowe, too.

"It is just going to be a challenge," says Irons, who contends Bowe is a more talented receiver than Washington State All-America candidate Jason Hill who Irons faced in the opener. "He is probably going to come in better than he was last year and probably make bigger plays. If you watched in the first two games, he made some big plays."

Irons will have a great scouting report because the two worked out together in Atlanta at the training facility run by David Irons, Sr., a former NFL player. The cornerback says they didn't do one on one drills vs. each other, but worked on their agility, speed and strength. Irons notes that his brother Kenny, the Auburn tailback, is friends with LSU running back Alley Broussard, who missed last season with an injury.

Irons says he is exciting to compete against a friend on the opposing team. "It makes the game better," the defensive back says. "You want to play a lot harder and you want to win more. I will probably play my best defense this game. The LSU game is one of the big competition games.

Bowe has seven catches for 153 yards and two touchdowns this season. Davis has six receptions for 111 yards.

Dwayne Bowe

When the whistle blows on Saturday, Bowe and Irons will put aside their friendship and do the best to dominate each other, Irons says. "We know this Saturday is a crucial game. I told him to give it his all and I am going to bring my all."

Irons notes he got a phone call from his buddy Bowe on Monday night.

"His coach is like No. 4, No. 4, this and that," Irons says. "He said he is tired of hearing my name in the meetings. I told him I am kind of tired of hearing his."

Five of the last six years, the winner of the Auburn vs. LSU contest played in the SEC Championship Game. A packed house at Jordan-Hare Stadium and a national TV audience on CBS will be able to check out the SEC West showdown.

Irons predicts the visitors from Baton Rouge will be tough to beat. "They are going to be real good," he says. "They are a deep threat team. That is how they are going to beat you. They like to go deep. That is their big key. They wait for a cornerback to slip up or safety to come up and somebody get left open downfield.

"They have got a great wide receiver corps," he adds. "As a defensive back that is what you look for to challenge your skills and see where you are at as a DB...Now that you are going against one of the elite guys, they are going to bring it to you every snap."

Premium Subscription Signup

Subscribe to Magazine Only

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories