Junior DB Says Defense Coming Around

Auburn junior defensive back Jerraud Powers talks about the secondary, the young corners and getting ready for the season opener.

Auburn, Ala.--Although he is just entering his junior season at Auburn, there is no question that cornerback Jerraud Powers is the veteran of the Tigers' secondary heading into the 2008 season.

With 26 college games and 13 starts under his belt, Powers has developed into one of the SEC's top cornerbacks as a sophomore when he started every game and finished with 63 tackles and four interceptions. On the other side, Auburn will feature fellow junior Walter McFadden, who won the job after Aairon Savage injured a knee during preseason practice.

Behind them Auburn heads into the season relying on three true freshmen to pick up the slack. Neiko Thorpe, D'Antoine Hood and Harry Adams are all talented and have shown the ability to get the job done at times in preseason camp. Powers says while they are not anywhere close to where they will be down the road, he believes they will get the job done when called upon.

"They are coming along," Powers says. "They've still got a long ways to go, but they are coming along. They are getting better each day and competing each day. That's all you can ask for right now is them to keep learning and competing and wanting to play each day.

"They are going to come along and they are going to help us early in the season because they have to. This first game they are going to play. That is going to help them have that experience and know what to expect in a big game."

One of the roles for Powers, McFadden and even a sophomore like Zac Etheridge this week is to show younger players how to handle a game week. Even though the freshmen have gotten used to the defense, work ethic and even the speed of the game, Powers says getting ready to play an actual game is completely different from anything they've had to deal with.

"During practice they're sort of watching what we do and every step we take," Powers says. "It's real important. I think they've got an idea and the are starting to come along. They have got the work ethic part down now. Now it's about preparing their minds. Right now they probably don't know what to expect because they haven't been out there."

Jerraud Powers is shown in a preseason drill.

The secondary is just one of the groups of focus for first-year coordinator Paul Rhoads. Counting on the entire defense to adapt to some changes while keeping many things the same, Rhoads has been constantly teaching the details with the Auburn defense in the preseason.

It's just one of the many things that Powers says he likes about his new position coach and coordinator and he contends that Rhoads' attention to detail is going to pay off in a big way for the defense in 2008 beginning this Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.

"I think we're on the same page now," Powers says. "I think everybody understands their job and their assignment on the defense and their role on the defense. It's not like that first week of preseason camp when everybody was running around and confused a little bit. Everybody knows what to expect and what to do on defense. We're starting to look like the same old Auburn."

Coming off a season when they upset Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the Warhawks from ULM could present a challenge for Auburn if the Tigers take them lightly, Powers says. He says in his mind all games are just as important and he points out that Rhoads won't let this defense think about anything else but playing sound football from start to finish.

"I think it's just a mindset," Powers says. "With me I take every game the same. No matter who we're playing I have the same mindset. Anything can happen on any given Saturday just like the Appalachian State/Michigan game and the Louisiana-Monroe/Bama game.

"You don't prepare against any team taking them lightly because they are D1 athletes just like we are," Powers says. "It's just a mindset with guys. Some guys might handle it different than other guys but at Auburn with Coach (Paul) Rhoads, I'm pretty sure he'll say the same thing, he's not going to take Louisiana-Monroe easy and we're not either."

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