Auburn, Ala.--After missing the entire month of October with a sprained right knee, Joe Cope got the start at center in Auburn's 27-0 victory over Arkansas State. With a couple of big rivals remaining on the schedule, Cope says his play against the Indians was a good start to a strong finish.
"I was so excited to get out there and I had first-game jitters, my stomach was acting up a bit and I was like, ‘man, I've got to get out and play this game,'" he says. "After that first snap the knee felt strong and everything was going good. I didn't have any problems with it all game.
"We're worrying about Georgia now then we're going to start worrying about that other game," Cope adds.
Cope and the Auburn offense had 399 yards against the Indians.
Cope played roughly half of the game and Jason Bosley, who started the four games in Cope's absence, played the rest at center.
"My plan was to play three series to start the game off and see how things went," he says. "Since I didn't have any problems with it they let me stay in and play with the first team guys. I wanted to get as many reps with Duck (Tim Duckworth), Ben (Grubbs), J.P (Jonathan Palmer) and King (Dunlap) as I could before we hit the home stretch.
"They just wanted to give me a shot, see what I could do and see if I could get the rust off the shoulder pads," Cope adds. "We didn't score like we wanted to and we had to kick a few field goals. Coach (Hugh Nall) wanted us to stay out there until we got a pretty good lead before I came."
With more red zone struggles the Tigers didn't take a commanding lead over Arkansas State until the third quarter. Cope notes that field goals won't get the job done against Georgia and that other team, even though they lost to Kentucky and Mississippi State, respectively.
"Field goals put points up there," he says, "and I guess that's the reason John Vaughn is the all-time leading scorer for Auburn. But for these next two games coming up we're going to need to put touchdowns up to win the game. In bowl games and whatever else we're going to have to start scoring more touchdowns."