Tigers Preparing to Cope With USC Crowd Noise

Auburn center Joe Cope discusses Auburn's road trip to play the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Auburn, Ala.--Joe Cope has experience playing center in some loud visiting stadiums. On Thursday night as his Tigers play the South Carolina Gamecocks, he may be called upon to put that experience to work.

"Anytime you have got the crowd noise involved it can affect communications," the Auburn senior says. "Coach Borges (offensive coordinator Al Borges) does a real good job. We work on silent counts."

South Carolina's 80,250-seat Williams-Brice Stadium can be very loud when the home team is playing well.

"(QB Brandon) Cox does some things different, but at times you have yell and at times you have to communicate from person to person," Cope points out. "You will tell the person next to you and he will tell the person next to him. It can cause some problems, but with our senior leaders and the experienced players we have we have played in some loud stadiums before so I feel like it will be just an obstacle in the game."

Last season the Auburn vs. South Carolina game was all over but the shouting by halftime as the Tigers built at 31-0 lead at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Cope and the rest of the starters spent a significant time on the sidelines letting other players see action.

"I remember last year's game," the center says. "A lot of people got to play. We had a good game plan going into the game and we had a fun time. Hopefully, we will get better this week and have another performance like we had last year."

Joe Cope is shown at LSU during his junior season.

Cope says he expects more of a challenge from the South Carolina defense than the Tigers received last year as they plowed through the Gamecocks on the way to a 48-7 victory that wasn't as close as the score.

"Last year they did a lot of standing up," Cope says. "They looked like an old Mississippi State team. This year they are in a lot of 4-3 and do a lot of the same stuff our defense does. They are good and they come off the ball.

"They have a bunch of defensive tackles who rotate into the game," he adds. "They have three or four guys they rotate so they are going to stay fresh. They are real talented this year."

Offensive line coach Hugh Nall hasn't been satisfied with his group's performance, but notes that he sees signs of improvement. Cope agrees.

"I think we are coming on good," the center says. "We still haven't had that game where we gell completely. I guess everybody is starting to wonder what has happened to our running game, but anytime you have people loading the box it makes it hard. We are still waiting on that breakout game. Hopefully, we can come out and do it this game.

"As far as a unit, I think we are bonding better than we have ever bonded before," he says. "We are just waiting for that breakout game."

In last Saturday's victory over Buffalo, the reserves got to see their first substantial action this season. Nall says the backups played well, something Cope saw, too.

"They were hungry," the senior says. "It was great to see those guys out there. They were fired up and yelling. Ben Tate did a good job of running behind them. We are very happy for all of those guys."


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