One of the many offensive players making his first career start on the road that night will be junior guard Tyronne Green.
Part of a starting line that came into the season with just four career starts, all four by center Jason Bosley, it's doubtful you could have a much tougher first road experience with three true freshmen up front alongside the two juniors. While it's challenging and will be a new experience for 80 percent of the line, Green says it comes down to just playing football in the end.
"I haven't had much experience on the road," Green says. "I have traveled, but I haven't really been in the mix of it all. It's really kind of new for me, too. Once I'm out there I guess I pretty much zone the crowd out. Forget the crowd and the noise and just play ball. You have to come out there confident and get after it. You can't let the crowd get to you. You just have to relax and play ball."
Grading out at 96 percent in the victory over New Mexico State last Saturday night, Green was Auburn's top performer after struggling some to open the season. While he's still got plenty of work to do to be the kind of performer he wants to be, Green says it was a positive step for both himself and the offense.
"I really believe we needed that game coming off a conference loss," he says. "You want to do your best in the conference, but coming off a loss we had a good week of practice to try to pick things up. We had to build some momentum going into the Florida game. We had a whole new attitude all week in practice and everybody picked it up. We all played together so we could get some momentum heading on the road."
Already used to playing with Lee Ziemba as a part of the starting five, Green says he was surprised at the Sunday practice following the Mississippi State loss when true freshmen Ryan Pugh and Chaz Ramsey were moved to the first team to begin getting work. Throughout the week Green says he became used to having the Hoover native beside him at tackle and in the game he says Pugh more than held his own.
"It was kind of a shocker for me," Green says. "I found out at practice. I was trying to step up and be a leader and help out when I could or if he needed it. He looked like he was holding his own to me but I was there for him if he had any mental errors or letdowns. Overall I think they stepped up and played pretty good.
"It really wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," Green adds. "I think they all held their own. They all play hard, I'll give them that. If they make a mistake they make it full speed. They get after it. That's what we need. If you make a mistake, do it full speed and get on somebody. Overall I think we did a pretty good job. We had two 100-yard backs. The running game was pretty good and it helped open up the passing game."
A center for preseason practices and the first three weeks of the season, Pugh was moved to left tackle by Coach Hugh Nall leading up to the New Mexico State game. Ramsey was more familiar with his right guard spot but Green says it was still two more true freshmen in the lineup and he had no idea what to expect.
"I knew he played tackle at Hoover, but high school and college are pretty different being out there on what we like to call ‘the island' at tackle," Green says. "You get those speed guys off the end and it's a lot different than high school. I was ready to see what it was going to look like, but he did pretty good. Chaz stepped up at right guard. He played pretty good. He's a hard-nosed player coming off the ball. He gets after it. I liked the overall attitude we had as a unit, just coming off the ball and pounding and running the ball."
Tough, hard-nosed and energetic are three words that come out often when discussing the freshmen linemen. Green says that's a part of the game that he feels was missing early in the year, but has been brought back by the trio in the last two weeks.
"I love the enthusiasm," Green says. "It really gets you going during a game. They all play hard, but Ziemba is second level, third level. You can always see him playing upfield. He's always getting after it. I love it. Seeing somebody else getting it makes you want to get it to. You don't want to be the letdown on the offensive line. With everybody playing with that attitude and mindset I think we've got a chance to have a really good season."
Close to a three touchdown underdog to the Gators, Auburn goes into the contest with very few people expecting the Tigers to even keep things close much less win the game. Green says that's something the team hears, but they're focus is on playing well. The rest he says will take care of itself.
"I'm sure half of the country is already counting us out as a loss," Green says. "I feel good about it. We come out and get after it in practice and I honestly think we've got a chance to win this game."