Frustrating Days For Tiger Tackle

One of Auburn's key defensive players discusses his play and the performance of his team.

Auburn, Ala.--Spencer Johnson missed practice on Sunday and the junior defensive tackle's availability for Saturday's road trip to Gainesville is uncertain.

The 6-3, 281 junior from Southern Choctaw High School was chop blocked on his bad ankle in the Arkansas game and was able to go just 12 plays. "I have a high ankle sprain and it is like real sore right now," Johnson said Sunday night after missing the team's practice for treatment.

Spencer Johnson

Johnson said the ankle feels better than it did after the game. When asked how long it would be before he could get to full speed and play to the best of his ability, the junior said, "I have yet to figure that out. I haven't been 100 percent since my freshman year. We will just have to see how this week goes and how it progresses, how the swelling goes down and how much I can get out there and work on it."

Johnson said it has been a frustrating season for the defensive front with fellow tackle DeMarco McNeil still not full speed coming off knee surgery and the team's top defensive end, Reggie Torbor, getting injured twice and not expected to be full speed the rest of the season with a nagging ankle problem. "The first group hasn't been out there 100 percent together yet," he said. "It is so important for us to be out there 100 percent working hard and making plays for the rest of the defense to be behind us. It starts with us up front."

The defensive front lost many of its battles and the war on Saturday to the visiting Arkansas Razorbacks. That dropped the Tigers to 2-1 in the SEC race with a 38-17 loss to Arkansas and Johnson said the defensive line's play had "everything" to do with Auburn's loss to the Razorbacks. "As a whole we didn't perform as a defense, but as I said on the defensive line we feel it is our priority to go out and have a good game. It starts up front with us making plays in the backfield and keeping the offensive line off the linebackers."

Johnson says the Tigers still consider Florida a very dangerous opponent even though the Gators bring a 4-3 record into Saturday's game. "They still have great athletes," he noted. "They still have got a great quarterback and they are capable of beating anyone, but we are not going to worry about Florida right now. We are going to worry about ourselves right now."

Tiger Ticket Extra: DeMarco McNeil says that he missed having his buddy Johnson playing beside him at defensive tackle and notes the two work well together. With Johnson seeing limited action in a reserve role last Saturday and McNeil playing just a bit more than half of the game, McNeil says he doesn't believe that the junior tackles were ever in the game on the same play vs. the Razorbacks.

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