An Opportunity Not Wasted On Ziemba

True freshman Lee Ziemba talks about his first three weeks as a starter and the challenge facing the Tigers this week.

Auburn, Ala.--The term trial by fire doesn't even begin to tell the tale of Auburn true freshman offensive tackle Lee Ziemba this season.

In his first three games Ziemba has taken every offensive snap for the Tigers while battling top-notch defensive ends in each contest. Last week his challenge was the athletic Titus Brown from Mississippi State, another experience that Ziemba said is something he can build on for the rest of the season.

"I think it's a blessing," Ziemba says. "What more can a freshman like me ask for than to go against big-name players like that. What an opportunity. Titus Brown is a great player. I gave up a sack against him that I'm not too proud of but again what an opportunity to make a name for myself and make this team better."

Part of one of the most anticipated offensive line signee classes in Auburn history, Ziemba was one of the players signed to challenge for a starting job and he lived up to his billing during fall practice. Expected to be part of a team that would compete for the SEC West crown that LSU is favored to win, Ziemba instead finds himself on a team searching for some good karma after losing two consecutive games for the first time since 2003. He says that right now the job offensively is to cut down on mistakes up front and help out a defense that has done its part through three games.

"I think we're improving in some areas," Ziemba says. "We've had some injuries and some guys had to step up and they did. We're still making way too many mental areas like coming off on the right linebackers but other than that we've just got to come off the ball hard and low and get to the right spots. When we do that we'll be even better."

Even when things have gone right at times, the Auburn offense has been hampered by turnovers in 2007. With 10 in the last two games alone, the Tigers have to first cut down on the errors before they can hope to see a big improvement on offense although Ziemba says even with the turnovers they've still had chances to get the job done.

"The turnovers are a factor, but even with the turnovers we had a chance to win the ball game when we were on the other side of the 50 many times," Ziemba notes. "We just make too many mental errors when we get down there close to scoring. We have to control that and learn from it and get better."

Something that gave the Auburn offense a spark last week was the insertion of fellow true freshman and Arkansas native Kodi Burns at quarterback for the struggling Brandon Cox. Rushing for 87 yards and keying a running game that totaled 216 yards on the ground, Burns brought something to the table and Ziemba says it came not only from him but from the change in offense when he entered the game.

"It did but mainly because of play calling," Ziemba says. "When Kodi comes in the game to play calling is a little different to suit his abilities. I think what we knew we were going to do. We had to come off the ball and isolate his ability a little bit."

This week the Tigers will try to get back on the winning track against a New Mexico State team that will move the football and should score points because of its fast-paced attack under former Kentucky Coach Hal Mumme. Ziemba says it's an important week for the program because it will show the makeup of the team heading into a tough stretch of SEC games beginning with a trip to Florida.

"I don't think any of us that came here, myself and Chaz (Chaz Ramsey) and Pugh (Ryan Pugh)...all of the offensive linemen that came here came from winning programs," Ziemba says. "We're not used to losing and neither is Auburn. Auburn is not used to losing two games in a row. That hurts. The big thing for this team is how we're going to come back this week and recover from that. It's going to be a test, how strong we are as individuals, how strong we are mentally and physically."

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