Goggans Growing Into Starting Role

Auburn defensive end Michael Goggans discusses his play and this week's SEC season opener.

Auburn, Ala.--Heading into his first Southeastern Conference football game as a starter for the Auburn defense, Michael Goggans seems excited about Saturday's road test at Mississippi State.

"We have played two non-conference games and the SEC opener is going to be a bigger challenge," the redshirt sophomore defensive end says. "We need to come into the game and play physical and be tough. If we do that I think we are going to be fine on defense."

Kickoff time is set for 6 p.m. from Davis Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

"Mississippi State is a smash-mouth team," says Goggans, who notes that he is feeling more comfortable in his role as a defensive end after moving there last season after previously playing tight end.

"We have just got to anchor down as defensive linemen and control their offensive linemen and control our gaps," Goggans says. "If we do that, I think we will be fine."

In last Saturday's 27-13 victory over Southern Miss, Goggans made four solo tackles, including one for a four-yard loss. A week earlier, in his first collegiate start, he returned a fumble for a touchdown on the first defensive play of the season for the Tigers as they shut out the University of Louisiana at Monroe 34-0.

"I think the defense is doing good," says Goggans, who notes that he has become more comfortable this year in his role on defense and that has helped him become a better player.

"We aren't great yet on defense," he says. "We still have go things to work on, but overall I think we are coming together as a unit. We are still missing some tackles. If we correct that and correct some small things, I think we will be fine."

The front four has a new look this year with Sen'Derrick Marks moving back inside from end to tackle to take over the starting spot held by Pat Sims last year and Mike Blanc has taken over at noseguard replacing Josh Thompson, who has graduated. They are joined in the starting lineup by Antonio Coleman, who is off to a strong start.

"The defensive line, we are doing pretty good now," Goggans says. "We are strong on the inside and me and Antonio are making a lot of plays on the outside. We are getting a lot of production up front."

Through two games, opponents are rushing for just 60.5 yards per contest and are passing for 202. Mississippi State, which is 1-1 following a 34-10 victory over Southeastern Louisiana, averages 153.5 rushing yards per game and 221 passing.

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