Q&A With Offensive Lineman Ryan Pugh

Sophomore offensive tackle/center Ryan Pugh talks about Tony Franklin's offense, the quarterbacks and taking on ULM in the Auburn football opener.

Auburn, Ala.--Ryan Pugh goes into Saturday night's season opener as the number one right tackle and the number two center. The true sophomore is a returning starter for Coach Tommy Tuberville's football team.

ITAT: Is the excitement level about as high as it gets?

Pugh: "No. Well it's not as high as it gets, but it's about as high as you can get it for the first game. You've got to think your excitement level is going to be higher when LSU or Tennessee rolls around, but you can't take these guys lightly at all.

"We're going to be jacked. It's the first game at home. It's opening weekend. There is all kinds of excitement building up. The students are ready. The fans are ready. I think we're ready more than anything. It should be fun."

ITAT: In this offense you have gone through one game in it. How different is it now than what people saw against Clemson?

Pugh: "It's really different. People might have said we looked really good versus Clemson. I think Clemson might have made us look good because it surprised them, too. I think we'll be a lot more polished. I don't know how much new stuff you'll see because we put a lot in for the bowl game. We'll have some kinks here and there because every team does every week.

"As a whole, not just the offense but the whole team, we're going to look a little different. We're going to play a little faster. We have a little swagger about ourselves right now. If you're ranked in the Top 10 you have to play like it every week. I think the excitement is building and the coaches have done a real good job of keeping us focused on this game."

Ryan Pugh became a key player for the Tigers last season as a true freshman.

ITAT: In talking with Tommy Trott he said the offense isn't a new offense anymore. He said because of the reps it feels very familiar. Do you feel that too?

Pugh: "This is our offense. If you don't believe it by now then we've got serious problems. Everybody has bought in and it's time to go play. This is Auburn's offense. There is no old offense or a new offense, it's just Auburn offense. We're going to go out and show everyone what we've got."

How unique is it to have a couple of guys at the quarterback position that you know both are going to play?

Pugh: "We talk about it a little bit. Really, as an offensive line it doesn't affect us as much as the receivers and other people on the field. Half the time we don't know who is back there. Whoever is going to give us a shot to win, put them in. It doesn't matter to me if it's Kodi (Burns) or Chris (Todd). It doesn't matter if they switch every play. As long as we win at the end of the day it's fine with me.

"I think it's a real unique situation though because I've never seen a quarterback battle so intense that it's not intense. You never hear them arguing in practice. One will correct the other and they just take it like a coach is telling them something and keep moving. To be honest with you I don't think coach (Tony) Franklin keeps up with the reps. It's split between them. They are real mature about the situation. More than anything they want the team to win. They are out there competing and the competition has made them look good."

ITAT: In 2004 people talked about Carnell (Carnell Williams) and Ronnie (Ronnie Brown) and how when they put the team first it helped everybody out. Do you think this has the possibility to do the same thing?

Pugh: "Definitely. I think it poses a lot of problems for the opposing defense. The thing that is so unique is that there is not one package for one and one for another. They both run the whole offense. I think that throws a curveball at people when you bring them in because Chris can run the ball and Kodi can run the ball. Chris can throw the ball and Kodi can throw the ball. They make decisions on the field just like each other. They have been coached up well. With them putting the team first it gives us a shot to have a great team this year and have a lot of success."

ITAT: Talk about the importance of getting off to a good start offensively and building some momentum?

Pugh: "I like the way our schedule sets up. You have two bye weeks and play on a Thursday so you have three Saturdays off. Early you play two non-conference games before jumping into the tough SEC schedule. With these two non-conference games we've got to come out and have really good games. Offensively, we have to be polished and not turn the ball over. You've got to be good on assignment football.

"I think that is how the coaches have coached us, to play hard and play fast and leave everything you've got to get this thing going. Once it's going it's just a downhill affect from there. You just keep rolling. It's something we've stressed all week is getting off to a good start. I think we've focused on that for a long time.

"I haven't really heard anybody mention La-Monroe or Southern Miss or anybody. It's about this offense and getting better. We're worrying about ourselves. If we take care of ourselves then everything will work out."

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