Powers Looking For Payback Vs. Bulldogs

Auburn junior defensive back Jerraud Powers talks about the Tiger defense and getting ready to face Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.--Last season Auburn entered the Mississippi State game off a loss to South Florida and played a very uninspired contest in a 19-14 loss to the Bulldogs. Despite giving up just 213 yards of total offense, Auburn's defense couldn't hold off MSU after five turnovers from its offense.

That is a game that has stuck with this Auburn team throughout spring and preseason practice. For junior defensive back Jerraud Powers it's one he won't soon forget and he's looking forward to trying to get redemption this weekend when the Tigers travel to Starkville for the 6 p.m. CDT start on ESPN2.

"I was very disappointed," Powers says. "I was actually so mad that I didn't go anywhere when I got home. I was like a little kid that had just lost a championship. I was that mad. It was very disappointing knowing that you start the SEC in the bottom of the race.

"We knew from that point on we were going to have to play catch up," he says. "It was disappointing, but we had to get past it. We bounced our way back into the SEC West, but it was very disappointing to start the season 1-2 like we did."

Playing solid defense through two games last season, Auburn put up nowhere near the numbers it has this season to this point. Facing more established offensive units in Kansas State and South Florida, Auburn allowed 39 points and 635 yards of total offense heading into the MSU game. This season the number is 13 points and 525 yards of offense. While it's impossible to compare from season to season, Powers says in his mind the defense is playing better than it was at this time last year.

"Last year we were playing good defense at the start of the season, but a couple of situations we were in the offense wasn't clicking like it was supposed to and we weren't all the way there on defense so it was both sides of the ball," Powers says.

"This year the offense has been pretty consistent and we've been trying to be consistent. We've just been doing a good job of preparing. What gives us an upper hand is that we learned from last year. That is sorting of helping us this year because we didn't want to get off to a slow start again."

Powers is one of Auburn's most experienced players.

Auburn enters the game ranked in the Top 10 in the country and will square off against one of the most physical teams in the SEC. Throwing the ball much better behind second-year quarterback Wesley Carroll, Powers says the Tigers are going to count on young defenders such as Neiko Thorpe and D'Antoine Hood to play well while providing depth in their first road contests at Auburn.

"We can try to tell them how the SEC is on the road," Powers says. "They're not going to believe it until they experience the atmosphere. I'm pretty sure they'll be excited. It's going to be fun for them because when you're on the road you feel like the world is against you.

"It's just you and the Auburn family rather than everyone else. I'm not too much worried about them being nervous. Once they're on the field and that whistle blows I'm going to hope everything else blocks out for them. I think they'll do fine."

With much of the attention outside the football team on the starting quarterback and where the team is ranked, the focus for the players is squarely on playing well against the Bulldogs. Powers says as far as he's concerned it's all business this week as Auburn opens conference play.

"The only thing on my mind is that we've got something to prove down there in Starkville," he says. "They came to our house with a chip on their shoulder and came out with the victory. We're going to have to do the same thing with it being a night game. As far as preparing I take every game the same way. That game from last year is still in my head."

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