Auburn, Ala.--Center Joe Cope sprained his right knee in the 24-17 victory over South Carolina and is expected to miss as much as six weeks. However, Cope doesn't want to sit on the side for long and is eager to get back to the field and finish what he started.
"I started college football five years ago and I want to be able to finish," the senior says. "Whatever it takes I'm going to get back out on that field. I can't stand it."
Known as one of the tough guys on the football team who worked his way from a walk-on and designated snapper all way up the depth chart to a starter, Cope says he is willing to do anything to get back on the field as soon as possible.
"Right now I'm rehabbing, icing and that kind of stuff," he notes. "We've got to see how the swelling goes and that will determine everything. It's like coach Tubs (Tommy Tuberville) said (4-6 weeks), I'd like to say 3-6 weeks. That's what I'm going to say and hopefully a little sooner."
Offensive guard Ben Grubbs, who has battled in the trenches for the last two seasons with Cope, says that he wouldn't be surprised to see the center out on the field later this month.
"I really don't know the circumstances, but I know Joe," Grubbs notes. "He's a hard worker and if the doctors told him six weeks he'll be back in three. I'd go to war with Joe any day because he's a fighter and he has heart."
With upcoming games against Arkansas this Saturday and Florida the next, guard Tim Duckworth says that Cope's leadership will be missed. "Joe is just Joe," he says. "You've got to be around him to know that he's going to give it everything he's got all the time. Plus he's one of those types of guys that has that fight in him. You could draw off him and keep going. If I see him doing good he's going to motivate you. He's a motivational speaker on the field as well as a friend."
The injury came in the second quarter of the game, but Cope kept playing even when the Auburn offense held the ball for more than 15 consecutive minutes of game action.
"I got landed on kind of awkward from the outside," he says. "It's one of those things about playing center being in the middle of everything with bodies flying everywhere. You get hit from different angles, hit wrong and it's going to mess some things up, but you've just got to fight through it.
"They asked me, ‘Can you go?' and I said, ‘Yeah, I think I can do it.' They gave the opportunity so I went out there and tried as hard as I could to finish the game."
Working so hard to gain weight and strength early in his career and earning the respect of all his teammates on his way to being a starter for one of the top programs in the country, Cope says that it'll be a difficult few weeks watching from the training room and the sidelines during his senior season.
"They've got me in there (the training room) working out right now and the whole entire time I'm looking out the window at practice," Cope says. "I want to be out there more than anything else. I just don't want to let down my teammates.
"I'm in there with Cole Bennett and he's going through the same thing I am. I guess it's kind of good that we're going through the same thing at the same time. We're ready to get back out there. I watched the whole practice today. People say they don't like practice. Nobody likes practice, but today I definitely wanted to be out there practicing with all of the guys."