Bulls Loaded at Skill Positions

If Auburn is to handle South Florida on Saturday it'll likely be at the line of scrimmage where the Tigers will have an advantage.

Auburn, Ala.--In the week one victory over Kansas State it was defensive ends Antonio Coleman, Quentin Groves, Sen'Derrick Marks and Antoine Carter where the Tigers got tremendous production and were able to pull out a victory.

On Saturday against South Florida the end positions will again be key in containing quarterback Matt Grothe and the South Florida spread attack.

"You've got to do it every week, I don't care who you're playing," says Auburn end coach Terry Price. "But this is a good football team, they'll spread you out and run the ball and they'll spread you and throw the ball. It'll be very challenging because they have a lot of team speed. It'll definitely be a big-time challenge."

Grothe, the Big East Freshman of the Year in 2006, has a pair of talented backfield mates in Benjamin Williams and Mike Ford. Williams, at 5-7 200, is a returning starter and Ford is a change of pace at a powerful 6-2, 225.

"Number 30 is a tremendous blocker," linebacker Craig Stevens says of Williams. "I have seen that. He's not too big but he's been putting guys on their back when he blocks them. He's really impressive. He made a big impression on me."


Williams (above), Ford and Grothe are all threats on the ground.

Ford, in his college debut against Elon last week, carried the ball six times for 83 yards and had a total of three touchdowns. Last season's PapaJohns.com Bowl champions have quality depth at receiver as well.

With center Nick Capogna likely out with a knee injury, the Bulls' offensive line is one of the bigger units the Tigers will face this season ranging from 305-335 pounds. The defense is just the opposite, with only one player tipping the scales at more than 270. Nose tackle Richard Clebert is the big nose tackle, but Auburn could have an advantage pounding the ball on the ground with much smaller size from everyone else.

Last week the Auburn line struggled to protect Brandon Cox, and South Florida won't be much easier. Sophomore end George Selvie had four sacks and six tackles for a loss in the Bulls' opener.

"They get off the ball good, especially him," offensive guard Mike Berry says of Selvie. "He's probably the fastest guy on the line so we've got our hands full.

"They're very fast, very athletic and they get off the ball good," Berry continues. "We've got to work on our drive tracks, just getting off the ball and beating them to the punch. It's something that we emphasize and we'll get better at it."

While the line is quick to get in opposing teams' backfields, that could actually work to Auburn's advantage with screens and rollouts.

"Watching them on film they're very aggressive and almost borderline nasty, not in a bad way," tight end Cole Bennett notes. "They come off and they're going to hit you in the mouth.

"North Carolina had some success with nakeds and some boots with them (last season), so hopefully since Kansas State stacked the box on us they'll be biting on us, too."

Aside from Selvie, the other stars of the defense are middle linebacker Ben Moffitt and cornerbacks Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins. The trio has 92 combined starts under their belts.

"In recent years they have had a bunch of big wins," fullback Carl Stewart says. "In the past couple of years they beat West Virginia and played a bunch of big teams very closely. They're not going to come in here afraid of us just because we're Auburn . They're going to come in here with the mindset that they can beat us. We just have to treat this game just like another big game."

Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. and the game will be televised on ESPN2.


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