Future Corners Shine In Homecoming Victory

Walter McFadden, Jerraud Powers and Ryan Williams talk about their play in the 35-3 win against Tennessee Tech.

Auburn, Ala.--For realistic purposes, Jonathan Wilhite, Patrick Lee and Jerraud Powers are all starters at cornerback in the Auburn secondary. With the way opposing offenses use so many three, four and five-receiver sets, Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp counters that most of the time with three and four cover corners.

With Wilhite and Lee graduating seniors, the fans that stayed for the second half of Auburn's 35-3 Homecoming victory over Tennessee Tech got to see the future at cornerback and possibly the three regulars for next year in Powers, Walter McFadden and Ryan Williams.

McFadden had the play of the game with 93-yard interception return in the fourth quarter. Tech quarterback Lee Sweeney went into a three-step drop and McFadden jumped on a slant route and took it the distance for a touchdown.

"I had just been watching the older guys and he had been running slants all night," McFadden explains. "I just jumped it a bit.

"I saw nothing but open green field, but my teammates said somebody was right behind me," he adds. "Hopefully I'll be an up-and-rising player that will compete for the starting spot next year. I hope this shows that I'm growing up from a rookie and showing Coach Muschamp that he can trust me."

However, McFadden followed the score with a dance that drew praise from his teammates, and also a 15-yard celebration penalty.

"Oh he did the Deion!" Williams exclaims. "That's Prime Time! He jumped the pick and I think he did it better than Deion. He jumped the pick, read the quarterback's eyes and got in the end zone. That's what it's about."

Powers says he liked the dance in front of the student section also.

"I thought he looked better than Deion Sanders doing that," Powers explains. "I didn't think he was going to do it personally. He always said if he did something like this that he was going to get a penalty. I didn't think he was going to do the Deion dance, but when he did it I thought he looked better than Deion doing it. It was funny. It's something we'll talk about tomorrow."

In light of Georgia's three 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties on their first two touchdowns in last weeks win over Florida (including one from the entire team), as well as Auburn's 34-3 lead at the time, head coach Tommy Tuberville and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp didn't appear too irked by the dance.

"Yox (strength and conditioning coach Kevin Yoxall) gave me something already," McFadden jokes. "I think I've got kick-backs, about 50 yards (each). I think he was saying that he might give me 20 yards for every step that I did."

McFadden wasn't the only sophomore cornerback with an interception in the victory. Powers got his second career pick in the second quarter.

"We were in a defense where the safety had the tight end and I had the back if he came out weak (side)," Powers explains. "I kind of gave time and made it look like I was on the tight end. When I saw the quarterback eying the wheel route I just read it and jumped on it.

"I was on the outside of the tight end while he was going vertical" he continues. "(Aairon) Savage was on top and he had the tight end. I knew when I came off him that the tight end was covered. My job was to get the back when he came out.

"It's all scheme. That's all it was. Coach Muschamp put me in the right spot to make a play."

Powers is definitely the "veteran" of the young corners, but Williams was able to get on the field on defense, kickoff coverage, punt return and punt coverage against the Golden Eagles.

"I thought I did okay," Williams says. "I made a couple of mistakes, but it was simple mistakes. I didn't take on a block right, but my overall performance I thought I did real well. I went out there and played to the best of my abilities. I made a couple of plays, had a big hit, and I think I did real good.

"Every time I touch the field it's fun--just getting out on the field and flying to the ball. That's what I came to Auburn for. That's what the defense is set up for and it was real fun."

Williams, who was late getting to Auburn this summer and missed voluntary workouts because of somebody in the Mobile school system changing his grades, was expecting to redshirt early in the season. However, he had the redshirt taken off in the sixth game of the year against Vanderbilt and says he still feels good about the decision.

"Knowing that coming into my sophomore year I'm going to have a little bit of experience under my belt," he explains, "I'm not going to have as much jitters as most of the redshirt freshmen next year. If I could take it back, I wouldn't. I've got the experience out on the field.

"I know coming up in the spring I'm going to have to battle and I'm going to have to work hard," Williams continues. "Every season I'm going to try to get better. This year I'm a freshman and I'm young in the system. Now that I know the system I'm just going to play my ball now."

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