Auburn Defender Discusses Latest Test

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn secondary is expecting a long and busy day when the Tigers travel to Oxford, Miss., on Saturday for an SEC West test vs. the Ole Miss Rebels.

Coach David Cutcliffe's team has won six straight games at recently expanded 60,580-seat Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. A big reason why is the passing of redshirt junior Eli Manning.

One of the Tigers that the big quarterback will be testing is Auburn redshirt sophomore strong safety Junior Rosegreen, who is well aware of Manning's pedigree and talents. Rosegreen says the 6-4, 215-pound QB from New Orleans is a player the Tigers respect.

Rosegreen also says he gets excited about the challenge of competing against a player like Manning, who he considers a star quarterback. "If you come in and get a sack against him or some interceptions, that pretty much says you are a good defensive back to do that. You have to be in the right place at the right time.

"Being that we are playing against a great quarterback, me, Travaris Robinson, Carlos Rogers, Roderick Hood and Horace Willis are very excited about this game. The whole defense is excited. We have got to do what it takes to get ready for this game--watch film together and everything else that it takes. We have to make plays and get our hands on the ball. When we get our hands on the ball, we have got to do something with it."

Auburn, which has won eight of its last 10 games vs. the Rebels, will bring a 3-2 SEC record into the game while the Rebels are 2-2 in the league. Both teams are 5-3 overall. The loser of this 11:30 a.m. contest will fall two games behind idle LSU in the loss column. That makes it a game neither team can afford to lose.

Junior Rosegreen and the Tigers need to win on Saturday to keep pace with LSU in the SEC West.

Rosegreen says that Manning is "a great quarterback" who compares very favorably with Southern Cal's Carson Palmer and Florida's Rex Grossman, two other standout QBs Auburn has already faced this season. "We have just got to come in and claw, fight and scratch and do whatever it takes to contain Eli because we know we can't shut him down," Rosegreen says. "Nobody in the country can shut him down. We just have to hope to contain him.

"We have to blitz him a little bit, stay in coverage and tackle well," Rosegreen adds. "We have to stop the run. If you don't stop the run things can get ugly. The run opens up things for the pass."

In Auburn's 31-7 victory over LSU last Saturday, the Bayou Bengals never were able to consistently stop the Auburn running attack and because of that the homestanding Tigers took a lopsided win as they rushed for 100-plus yards for a ninth consecutive game. Last week Ole Miss netted just 36 yards on the ground in a 48-28 loss at Arkansas.

Junior Rosegreen makes a hit in the Syracuse game.

Manning has completed 181-299 passes for 2,203 yards this season. He has passed for 14 touchdowns and has been intercepted six times. At 279.9 yards per game, the Rebels lead the SEC in passing. However, the rushing game is at the other extreme. Ole Miss gains just 105.2 yards per game, which is last in the SEC and 104th nationally.

The game will be televised regionally on JP as Auburn looks for a third straight victory over the Rebels.


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