Key Defender Wants Tigers To Get Better

The football Tigers are giving up just 11 points per game this season, but they are not satisfied with that.

Auburn, Ala.--Roderick Hood says he expects to see an improved defense when the Tigers take the field on Saturday night for game five of the 2002 football season.

The senior cornerback and his Tigers will take on the Syracuse Orangemen starting at 8 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn will try to improve its overall record to 4-1. Syracuse will be trying to even its 1-2 mark.

The Tigers are coming off a 42-14 victory over Mississippi State. The team and coaches are happy with the result, but are not happy with all of the details in that defeat of the Dawgs. "We have got to get better," Hood says with emphasis. "We are not happy where we are. There is no status quo on our defense. We are not trying to go back. We are trying to go forward. We played pretty good last week, but we made a lot of mistakes. We always have something to improve on. I think we will be pretty good by the end of the year if we take game by game and just get better."

Roderick Hood

Syracuse put a 31-14 whipping on the Tigers last September at the Carrier Dome in upstate New York in the first major sporting event in New York following the terrorism disaster in New York City.

Hood says the Tigers need to enter this game as the more aggressive team. "They were hungry," Hood says of the Orangemen. "They were ready to play. We kind of felt like we were the enemy. Even though all of us were in it together on Sept. 11th, we kind of felt like we were the ones and they kind of took it out on us. This is a different year. They are coming to our house and we are looking forward to the game and playing with great disciplined defense and making something happen."

The Tigers had one of their longest practices since the start of season on Tuesday, finishing up under the lights. "We had a lot of tackling practice," says Hood. "We missed a lot of tackles in the Mississippi State game that resulted in scores, drives and keeping us out on the field a long time. We are going to improve on our tackling and use great technique with great effort."

Roderick Hood is a former walk-on from Carver High in Columbus, Ga.

In addition to his role as a starting cornerback, the senior is Auburn's main man returning kickoffs and punts. The kickoff return game has not been impressive. Hood is averaging 20.5 yards on six returns and the team is averaging 19.8 per return with Tre Smith having one for 20 yards and Ronnie Brown one for 15. Nobody has had good blocking to run behind on the kickoff returns so far this season.

"Our kickoff return has been going slow," Hood admits. "We have been doing things to put more emphasis on it and try to make it work."

Hood is having a nice senior season as a punt returner. The former high school quarterback, who loves to carry the football, has 11 punt returns and is averaging a very impressive 11.6 yards and has come close to going the distance several times. "It is coming, it is definitely coming," Hood says. "We just have to keep at it. They are doing a great job blocking. I just have to get it and go and break some tackles myself and make people miss. I am looking forward to the opportunity this week to make some things happen and give our team great field position. I am definitely going to get it in the end zone before I leave here."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Hood, who is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, will give a speech to the Auburn group at its meeting on Thursday night...Hood says that the turnover drills that Auburn does everyday in practice are a big reason the Tigers are plus +2.75 in turnover margin, which leads the SEC and is second nationally.

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