Bragging Rights In His Neighbor-Hood

<!--Default For Auburn is to ignore-->Auburn, Ala.--It's normal to see a little extra bounce in the step of an Auburn football player at this time of year. That is especially true if the player is a Georgian and this is game week for the SEC's oldest football rivalry.

Now that Auburn-Georgia game week has arrived and both teams have a lot riding on the outcome, senior cornerback Roderick Hood says he likes the thought of being able to return home across the Chattahoochee River with four straight victories over the Bulldogs on his resume.

"I played with a lot of boys who went to Georgia and I have got a lot of friends on the Georgia team so to say that I have never lost to Georgia would mean the world," says Hood, a former quarterback at Carver High in Columbus, Ga.

Hood's Tigers bring a 7-3 record and are ranked 24th nationally with their 4-2 SEC record. The Bulldogs are ranked seventh at 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the SEC. A victory over Auburn in a game that starts at 2:30 p.m. CST on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium would get the monkey off the Bulldogs' back of never having won the SEC East title. A Georgia loss would likely mean another year of watching rival Florida make the trip to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship Game.

Georgia wide receiver Fred Gibson is a big-play threat for the Bulldogs. He has 26 catches for 508 yards this season. (Photo: Jim Hipple)

Auburn is in close to a must-win situation to keep alive its chances of winning the SEC West. Hood says that focusing on beating the Bulldogs because it will help Auburn is the theme of the week, but he admits he would enjoy an extra measure of personal satisfaction to see the Dawgs go down again to his Tigers.

If that is going to happen, Hood and his fellow defensive backs will need to play well against one of the league's better passing attacks orchestrated by lefty quarterback David Green. The sophomore has perhaps the most talented wide receiver in the league to throw passes to in 6-4, 190 Fred Gibson. "He is everything you would want in a receiver," says Hood, who will likely be called upon to cover Gibson at times on Saturday. "The big thing after he catches the ball is to not let him get the YAC yards--the yards after catch," Hood notes.

The Bulldogs will be missing talented senior receiver Terrence Edwards due to a separated shoulder, but Hood says the Tigers will not be lulled into a false sense of security. "Georgia has big depth at receiver," Hood points out. "Some boys will be able to step up."

Hood, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship, is shown with cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley in a preseason practice.

The cornerback got to touch the football a lot as an option quarterback in high school. He relishes the chance to carry the pigskin in college and got that opportunity in Auburn's 52-14 homecoming victory over Louisiana-Monroe when he returned two punts and looked very good on both plays.

"I am just glad that Coach (Eddie) Gran gave me the opportunity to get back there and Coach Tubs had enough faith in me to put me back there again," Hood says. "I don't know what the situation will be this weekend, but if I get the opportunity I am going to try to make the best of it." Hood returned two punts for 57 yards last week, his first appearance as a punt returner since losing a fumble on a return in Auburn's 31-7 victory over LSU.


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