Auburn, Ala.--One of Auburn's biggest surprises this season on defense has been the play of junior safety Eric Brock. Locked in a battle the entire 2005 campaign with Steve Gandy for a starting job, Brock was given the reigns during two-a-days by new coordinator Will Muschamp and since that time his play has improved dramatically.
He finally got noticed by Auburn fans and media members alike against LSU two weeks ago. In the final minutes of the game the Alexander City native knocked down a pass on fourth down and then made the game saving tackle to preserve the victory.
With the entire Auburn nation still worn out from the back and forth defensive struggle the weak before, last week's game against Buffalo was one to forget. Despite an easy 38-7 victory, Brock says that it wasn't the greatest of performances by the defense but when called upon they answered the bell.
"Overall that's the type of game you just mentally prepare for," Brock says. "We kind of came out a little sluggish at first but a lot of guys picked up their intensity after the half. The coaches picked up their intensity. It was just a better group effort in the second half from a defensive standpoint."
Brock has lost weight since last season and in turn has become a force for the Tigers.
Things have been full bore since the end of the Buffalo game on Saturday for the Tigers as they began preparations for South Carolina the following day. Practices on Tuesday and Wednesday followed, making for a very short but stressful week for Brock and his teammates.
"A lot of guys have never been put in this situation before, coming off a game Saturday and then playing again Thursday," Brock says. "It's kind of a new twist for a lot of guys on this team. It's different for us. We have to prepare different and do different things. As far as the physical standpoint it's a little tougher but we'll try to get our legs under us and be ready to play Thursday night."
Brock and the Auburn secondary will have their hands full Thursday night facing one of the nation's top receivers in sophomore Sidney Rice. Coming off a career game that saw him catch five touchdown passes against Florida Atlantic Saturday night, Rice presents a unique challenge for the Tigers along with new starting quarterback Syvelle Newton.
"He's definitely one of the top receivers in the league," Brock says. "He can get vertical very quickly. He already has like five touchdowns this season. They also have a lot of other good receivers. Sometimes Newton is at receiver and he's also at quarterback. He's pretty much everywhere. They get vertical very fast and with (Steve) Spurrier calling the plays you never know what to expect from them. We're just going to prepare and try to slow them down some. Hopefully we'll be able to do that."
Facing a Spurrier team that has struggled at times to move the football and put points on the board this season, the Tigers are looking to make a statement on national TV Wednesday night. As a veteran Brock knows this will be a tough test and he's looking forward to a good performance out of the Tigers on ESPN.
"I think everybody knows what's going to happen," Brock says. "We've been on prime time before. A lot of guys know we're going to be the only game playing on TV. We're just going to come out and play hard just like we do week in and week out. We have to keep that same focus. It's a SEC game so we have to stay focused and play hard."