Thompson and Tigers Relish Underdog Role

Auburn senior defensive lineman Josh Thompson talks about the play of the defense and the challenge of going on the road to face LSU.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been like going from the frying pan to the fire for the Auburn defense the last month as explosive offenses such as Florida, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and even New Mexico State have all been dispatched by Coach Will Muschamp's unit.

Much of the reason for that has been the play of the front four led by senior Josh Thompson. One of Auburn's most experienced defenders, Thompson was a big part of every victory and, along with Pat Sims, helped the Tigers hold Arkansas to almost 300 yards below their per game average in a 9-7 win Saturday night. He says that he's proud of the way the front has played in recent weeks and specifically against the Razorbacks.

"We knew we were decent up front, but we go up there with the mentality that they're not going to beat the defensive line down. We've been playing good and controlling the front in the Florida game and against Vanderbilt and Arkansas. It has just paid off for us.

"It was exciting," Thompson adds of the Arkansas game. "I think I looked up there at the end of the first half and they had 27 yards rushing or something. Our goal was to hold them under 100 yards and we did that. It was just real exciting for the defensive line, the linebackers, everybody."

Excitement is the word that doesn't even begin to do Muschamp's style of coaching justice and there is little doubt he'll be even more pumped up this week in his first trip back to LSU to coach. Because of that Thompson says they're already hearing it from the second-year defensive this week as they get ready to head to Baton Rouge.

"It's real big," Thompson says of the game for Muschamp. "He did last year and he will this year. He kind of puts that aside and doesn't make it a big focal point, but you know he doesn't want to lose to anybody, but especially LSU. It's just exciting because he gets us well prepared for this game as good as any game."

Preparation is the key for Auburn this weekend as the Tigers head into a very tough place to play in Tiger Stadium Saturday night. Currently LSU has won 24 consecutive Saturday night home games and has a winning streak of 17 games at home. Thompson says the trip and atmosphere is one that he remembers all too well from two years ago.

"This is the most crazy environment I've ever been to," Thompson says. "I have only been down there one time, but people are mooning you, people are throwing water at you, throwing bottles at you, beating on the buses. Then you get in the stadium and they are trying to spit at you and yell at you. That's what it's all about. I love that personally. It gets me hyped up. It's a great situation and a great environment. It's just a great place to go play."

Helping Auburn's cause once again is the Las Vegas odds-makers that have made the Tigers a double digit underdog to LSU. The game is the third straight for Auburn to be the underdog on the road, where they have won eight consecutive SEC games dating back to an overtime loss in Baton Rouge in 2005. Thompson says that he's fine with a lack of respect for his team again this week and knows it's something they'll have to earn once again.

"At Florida we were the underdog and at Arkansas not many people gave us a chance against (Darren) McFadden and Felix (Jones)," Thompson says. "We like being the underdog and going in there. It's just an exciting time to go somewhere and not get away from Auburn, but play somewhere different than Auburn. We love our fans following us there. They just get us pumped up.

"It's great," Thompson adds on the underdog role. "I love it. Being the underdog is the best thing you can be because people don't have many expectations for you and you go in there and show people how you can play. Every body is going to be looking at LSU, but hopefully after this game they'll be looking at us more."

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