Marks Becoming A Force At Defensive End

Sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks talks about his play at defensive end and playing for intense coordinator Will Muschamp.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn sophomore defensive end Sen'Derrick Marks has never been one to brag. Even when he started as a redshirt freshman, the Mobile native just played football and went about his business.

Now one of the veterans on an inexperienced defense despite his youth, Marks is still the quiet storm for the Tigers on that side of the ball.

This season Marks leads all Auburn defensive linemen in tackles with 27, which is good enough for seventh on the team. He is tied for second in tackles for a loss with six and has one sack and an interception. He also has two blocked kicks and a forced fumble. Not a bad stat line for a player that says he doesn't do anything special on the field.

"I just get out there and do what I'm supposed to do," Marks says. "If a play comes my way then I make it. If it doesn't come my way I try to trail it and let somebody else make it. I just do what I'm supposed to do."

That has become a hallmark for not only Marks, but the entire Auburn defense of late. Since losing to South Florida and Mississippi State in consecutive weeks, the Tigers have bought into the philosophy of one heartbeat on defense and it has paid off. Since the second loss the Tigers have gone on a roll with much of the credit going to the defense.

The leader of that unit is fiery coordinator Will Muschamp, who is a threat to run on the field to high five or even leap on to one of his players following a big play or defensive stand by the Auburn defense. Marks says having a coach as energetic as Muschamp on the sidelines makes every player on the defense pick up their intensity during the game.

"It's real fun," Marks says. "I don't think I've ever been a part of a coach like that. He called us up and I thought he had something to say (during the Arkansas win). He just started hitting everybody and pushing everybody around. I wanted to get in there and get me a shove, but my shove would have been a little bit too hard. You make a big play and you come to the sideline and he's all fired up. It gives the team more boost than what we usually have."

Muschamp hugs Patrick Lee after last season's win at South Carolina.

Muschamp's energy has been seen first hand by Marks as he was on the receiving end of an elbow from his coach after blocking a field goal against Florida in Auburn's victory in The Swamp. "He bowed me," Marks says while laughing. "He bowed me in my chest or my head. I saw it on the highlight tape and on the film we watched. He always is crunk and that gives the team a boost."

There is also the occasional fit of anger from Muschamp on the sidelines that often results in damage to the marker boards the coaches use to draw up schemes for the players. Marks says there is no better example of Muschamp's intensity and passion for football than a game last year on the road when he literally left his blood on the field for the win.

"The time he busted the board against Ole Miss he was bleeding out of his finger," Marks says. "He was steadily wiping and bleeding. He was wiping blood and writing. He broke the board. He told somebody what was going to happen and it happened and they didn't do what he told them to do. He hit the board and broke it. He was bleeding and steadily writing."

While he relies on his intensity to get his message to his players on game day, during the wee, Muschamp is a stickler for preparation and knowing your opponent. That was never more evident than in wins over Florida, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas in consecutive weeks. Defensively the Tigers shut down first Tim Tebow, then Earl Bennett, and finally Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. Marks says that comes with knowing your opponent inside and out.

"It's just something that comes along with watching film and taking what the coach tells you on to the field," Marks says. "It's recognizing and trying to see what they are doing so it will give you a little key to what they're trying to do. No matter what formation somebody goes into there are certain plays you run out of certain formations."

Currently the country's ninth-rated defense, Auburn will have yet another chance to earn some respect around the country this Saturday night on the road against LSU. Even if they pull out another outstanding performance on defense it's very likely that Marks will be a big reason why, even if he doesn't get much recognition for his work. Marks says if he's left in the shadows that's fine with him.

"As long as I'm doing my job that's all that matters," Marks says. "I always like to stay humble. No matter whose name gets called, as long as we're winning and the defense is doing good, if you say the defense is doing good and I'm a part of the defense then I feel like you're talking about me."

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