Left with just a few healthy bodies, the Tigers are trying to be solid at the three LB spots.
Things could get better this week though as Blackmon is expected back after missing the last three games with a sprained ankle. Also important for success at linebacker is the news that Chris Evans should be ready to go after injuring a knee in Saturday's win over New Mexico State. Auburn's top linebacker through the first part of the season, he went down with a blow to his knee in the 55-20 victory over New Mexico State.
"I was a little worried," Evans says. "The doctor told me there could be like a slight tear in it. That was the last thing I needed. When I came in for treatment (on Sunday), Arnold (trainer Arnold Gamber) told me they had checked the MRI and it was a slight strain. That was a real relief."
Evans is now preparing for Auburn's first road game of the season as the Tigers put in the game plan for Saturday night's game at Florida.
"I'm doing pretty good," Evans says. "It's just a little sore and tender."
Without Blackmon and Johnson to count on, Evans has been the workhorse of the linebackers as he's played virtually every snap on defense and remains on the field in Auburn's nickel and dime packages along with safety/strongside linebacker Eric Brock. While it would be tiring to some, Evans says he enjoys getting extended time on the field after playing sparingly his first two seasons on the team.
Facing one of the top offensive units in the country led by dual-threat quarterback Tim Tebow, the Gators come in on a roll and have been perfect at home under Coach Urban Meyer. Last season Blackmon keyed an Auburn victory over Florida at Jordan-Hare Stadium, something that Evans is hoping to do again.
"Tim Tebow is a great quarterback," Evans says. "It's going to be a great challenge for the linebackers. Then you have all the talent surrounding him.
"Getting Tray back is going to be really big this week," Evans adds. "Tray had a really good game against Florida last year. We're hoping for that again."
Last year the Tigers took a 27-17 victory over the Gators at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Florida rebounded from that game and has not lost since. The rematch is set for 7 p.m. CDT on Saturday from Florida Field with television coverage on ESPN.