Tiger Defender Not Satisfied

One of the key players on the Auburn football team's defense discusses the 2002 Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Strong safety Junior Rosegreen is coming off a good performance vs. Mississippi State. However, the redshirt sophomore is not satisfied and says that the defense as a whole is not satisfied either.

"We want to get better at tackling," Rosegreen tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We want to get better at shutting them out. And we want to go out there and play like it is time to get the other offense off the field when it is third down. That is something we are going to be concentrating on this game. We want to avoid giving up big plays."

Rosegreen, in his fifth career start and fourth of the 2002 season, was in on a team-leading 10 tackles vs. Mississippi State and deflected a pass. He and his Tigers will be trying to improve their record to 4-1 with an 8 p.m. home game on Saturday vs. the Syracuse Orangemen, a team that whipped the Tigers 31-14 last September at the Carrier Dome in upstate New York.

"After Sept. 11th (terrorism in New York City and Washington, D.C.) happened, I think they had everything going their way for that game when we played them," Rosegreen says. "They were really excited about playing that game. I don't think we were ready for the atmosphere. Now they are coming to our backyard and I think we will have a different outcome.

Junior is a sophomore.

"It was loud last year at their dome," Rosegreen notes. "Our quarterback couldn't even get the plays called and we were getting mixed up calling the wrong plays. Also, we just couldn't stop Dwight Freeney. This year, with them coming to our stadium and with our new system, I think we will do well against them." Freeney, a defensive end, has graduated and gone to the NFL.

Rosegreen and the Tigers are coming off a 42-14 victory at Mississippi State to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC. The sophomore safety did a good job of making plays vs. the MSU running game last Thursday.

"Week in and week out, I try to get better," Rosegreen says. "I am getting a feel for playing back there (strong safety). I am more relaxed and I am starting to make more plays."

Getting physical is a key to success, says Rosegreen, who worked hard in the offseason to prepare for a position move from cornerback to strong safety.

Rosegreen says he liked the pass rush the Tigers put on MSU quarterback Ken Fant last week. "Getting that kind of rush is good although in the secondary we aren't asking for help. Getting pressure on the quarterback is always important because if the receivers have time to run around all over the field they are going to get open. When the defensive line gets after the quarterback, that makes us look good."

Being good is important to Rosegreen as well as his teammates, the sophomore says. "Our goal is to be the best defense in the SEC and after that keep working to try to be the best defense in the country." Auburn is currently ranked sixth in the SEC in total defense, allowing 315 yards per game. LSU, which is allowing 230.3 yards per game, is No. 1 in SEC total defense. Arkansas is No. 1 in scoring defense, giving up 8.5 points per game, which is also No. 1 nationally. The Tigers are second in the conference and seventh nationally at 11.0 points allowed per contest.

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