Powers Taking Larger Role for AU Defense

Redshirt freshman Jerraud Powers has been called on for extensive playing time in recent weeks and has been up to the challenge.

Auburn, Ala.--Since he first set foot on the Auburn campus redshirt freshman Jerraud Powers has shown the ability to be a good football player for the Tigers.

After battling through injuries last season the Decatur native has been thrust into the spotlight in recent weeks with the injury to Jonathan Wilhite and has more than held up under the pressure.

It all began for Powers against LSU in week three. With top reserve Patrick Lee already out with a fever, Powers was thrust into action when Wilhite strained a hamstring early in the second quarter. Although his inexperience showed at times, Powers helped keep LSU out of the end zone and preserve an Auburn win. He says that game and the recent outings have shown him one very important thing.

"The best thing I have learned is that I have to be ready at any situation," Powers says. "LSU week Wilhite went down and I went in as the corner. Against South Carolina I had to go in as the nickel. That's like two completely different positions. I just have to be ready for anything because the next week I might have to go in as the dime. I just have to be ready to play it. That's the most important thing I have learned so far."

Powers is a physical player despite not being a big corner.

Last week Powers was originally the backup at cornerback against South Carolina with Patrick Lee back on the field and Zach Gilbert the nickel back. After a first half that saw the Gamecocks pick on Gilbert time and time again, Powers says things changed rather quickly with coordinator Will Muschamp calling on him for the final 30 minutes.

"We went in at halftime and we were sitting around at halftime getting each other up and he said, ‘Powers, you're going in at the nickel,'" Powers says. "He said it like he had confidence in me and knew I could get the job done. I just strapped it up and knew I had to go in there and play."

With Powers in the game at the nickel, South Carolina abandoned the offense that worked well in the first half for a spread offense in the fourth quarter that took advantage of quarterback Syvelle Newton's running ability. Although the defense didn't play up to its usual standards in the end it was enough to get the win and once again Powers played a hand in the victory.

His biggest play of the night likely came on special teams. Leading 17-10 in the third quarter following a John Vaughn field goal, Auburn picked the perfect time for an onside kick from Matt Clark. Hitting the pooch kick perfectly, Clark's attempt looked to be for naught as the ball bounced off Tre Smith to the turf. That's where Powers stepped in as he scooped the ball up before going out of bounds to preserve possession for the Tigers. They eventually scored what would prove to be the winning touchdown.

Powers is shown during a summer workout.

This week the defense faces a completely different challenge as the high powered rushing attack of Arkansas comes to town looking to run over the Tigers. That could mean less time for Powers on the field along with the expected return of Wilhite, but Powers says this week is about a complete effort from the defense beginning with stopping the run.

"I think it's a good challenge," Powers says. "Our main goal since day one has been to stop the run. That has been Tub's (Tommy Tuberville) main goal for us and Coach Muschamp's main goal. We've got a big challenge ahead. We know Arkansas has a great running game. I think they lead the SEC in rushing yards. It will be a great challenge Saturday."

No matter how much time he sees this week on the field, Powers has already been indoctrinated into the life of SEC football with his play the last three weeks. Lee says that because of that he's quickly become a veteran despite his young age.

"That's real good right there," Lee says of Powers' play. "Basically he's going to be an old hand by next year and he'll be teaching the other guys coming in how to do certain things. That's good for him."

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