Dede And Defense Wary Of Gamecocks

Auburn's Karibi Dede talks about the short work week and preparing for Steve Spurrier.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's depth at the linebacker position has increased dramatically since opening the season without several key players expected to play a big part in the Tigers' scheme. A player who has been a big part of everything since the opening week is senior Karibi Dede.

Because of the added depth with the return of Kevin Sears from suspension and Steve Gandy because of injury, Dede was able to rest last Saturday when Auburn played Buffalo. With a bruised knee and thigh suffered in a win over LSU, Dede was held out of action, but says that he's ready to go as Auburn travels to face South Carolina Thursday night.

"I could have played Saturday, but I think the coaches just wanted to play it safe and be cautious about it," Dede says. "I feel great. I'll probably just be wearing a brace for protection. I'm trying to get the trainers to let me play without it, but I don't think they will. I think they said I have to keep it on for another week ago."

While Dede wasn't in the mix Saturday he was still busy preparing and looking at Buffalo's offense right up to game time. For the Tigers that made for a tough few days because Sunday they got right to work on South Carolina and didn't let up until Tuesday. Dede says that having two less days to prepare for the game just means everyone has to think a little more and know what's going on at all times.

"The quick turnaround is all about mental preparation at this point," Dede says. "It's not a conditioning battle in this one. I think it's going to come down to mental focus because of the shorter preparation time."

For the first time this season Auburn will likely see a team that plans on playing multiple quarterbacks during a game. Known for rotating his quarterbacks if he's not completely pleased with what they bring to the table, Steve Spurrier is doing that this season with Syvelle Newton and Blake Mitchell.

The more athletic of the group, Newton has started the last two games for the Gamecocks and has played well running and scaled down version of the offense. The former starter, Mitchell sat out the game two weeks ago, but should be more involved in the game plan this week because of his ability to throw the football. Dede says the Tigers are working on both and expect to see the full arsenal of offense from the Gamecocks.

"Personally I think both quarterbacks are great players," Dede says. "With his athleticism he'll (Newton) will present a challenge for the defensive front. It's one of those deals where you might be in coverage, but you have to keep one eye still in the backfield just in case he squirts out. I don't think it will really be a game where he's running around though.

"I think they're going to look to move the pocket a little and run some quarterback draws and things, but I think they're still going to sit back and make reads and run two-level routes and that kind of stuff. It presents more of a challenge in a sense that we've got to work harder to contain him and bring pressure on him to get him to move his feet and maybe throw some bad balls. I fully expect to see both quarterbacks play though."

No matter which quarterback is in the game they'll definitely be looking for superb sophomore Sidney Rice when throwing the football. A dominant force last season, Rice got off to somewhat of a slow start this season before breaking out last week. Facing Florida Atlantic Rice caught five touchdown passes and quickly got the offense jump-started in the passing game.

The running game has been somewhat of a mystery this season for Spurrier and the Gamecocks. Last year freshman Mike Davis came on during the season and helped the running game become a solid part of the equation for South Carolina. The addition of Cory Boyd was thought to make that even better this year, but Boyd has been hampered by a sprained ankle and it's not certain that he'll be full speed Thursday night.

Dede has become one of the leaders of the 2006 Tigers.

Despite their problems running the ball this season and a very inexperienced offensive line to run behind, Dede says you can still expect the Gamecocks to give the running game a chance to be successful because that's what Spurrier has always done going back to his days at Florida.

"It's a little different," Dede says. "I think in the past so many people have focused on his Fun-N'-Gun passing game, but I really, truly anticipate this game starting off with him seeing if we can stop the run or not.

"In order to get a good passing game going you have to establish the run or some form of a run. It might not be 80 percent runs to establish it but it will be a good balance. Looking at the numbers he'll give you half and half. He's not just going to air it out all night long. He's going to try to win the line of scrimmage up front and that's something we've got to look to stop early."

Not only will Auburn be playing South Carolina Thursday night, they will also be playing against public perception. The only game in the country and on national television, Auburn has a chance to show everyone that it's worthy of being a national championship contender at this point in the season. Dede says that might be something the fans are worried about, but the players are only focused on improving each and every week and coming away with a victory.

"It starts off with ourselves," Dede says. "I always work to try and show my teammates and my coaches the work and focus during the week. As a family we look at each other and that's where we want to prove ourselves. You can't really control the media. Sometimes the media gets caught up in the big time match ups and the tradition of teams like the Notre Dame's and USC's. I think Auburn has that same kind of tradition. When it all plays out in the long run it will all play itself out."

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