AU Senior Says Tigers Have Respect for MSU

Auburn's Robert Dunn discusses his team's SEC opener as the Tigers prepare to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's Robert Dunn and his teammates are preparing for their first road trip of the football season and the senior wide receiver and punt returner says the Tigers are taking the 1-1 Mississippi State Bulldogs seriously.

"Right now we know that they have got a whole lot of defensive fronts, they change up a whole lot, they disguise their defense in the secondary real well so we're going to have a lot of reading on the run," says Dunn.

"They have a pretty good team, and that's pretty much with any team in the SEC," Dunn says. "Coming into another game we're not underestimating them. We're going to plan like we're going to play the number one team in the country right now. That is how we're preparing for the game right now."

Auburn is 2-0 and ranked ninth nationally, but lost to Mississippi State 19-14 last season. The Tigers committed five turnovers that day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"It is being brought up a whole lot," Dunn points out about the loss to the Bulldogs. "Coach (Tommy Tuberville) tells us every day that they whooped us last year. The coaches are not happy about it so they're pushing us a whole lot, a lot more than they normally would this week."

Dunn and the rest of the wide receiver group had a better game two catching passes than in game one when the Tigers had just 85 passing yards.

The Tigers lost wideout freshman Philip Pierre-Louis on the opening kickoff in game one and then senior James Swinton was injured on the first play from scrimmage. Pierre-Louis is recovering from ACL surgery and is out for the season. Swinton, who missed game two vs. Southern Miss, is expected to play on Saturday night in Starkville. In preseason the Tigers lost senior Charles Olatunji to a shoulder injury. He is expected to be cleared for action before the middle of the season.

Another receiver, Montez Billings, missed the opener with a hamstring problem. He returned for game two and should be ready for action vs. the Bulldogs.

Asked how the health of the receivers is affecting the offense, Dunn says,"Luckily we (have) a lot of guys that know the whole system. Rod Smith can play either side, X or Z, James Swinton can play X or Z. He just got back off of injury. Montez Billings just got back off of injury. Darvin Adams moved from the inside to the outside for a little more depth out there.

"We're getting a lot of guys back healthy so its not really a problem because for the most part the coaches stress that all of the receivers should know every other receivers position," Dunn adds.

Robert Dunn has developed into a big-play threat as a punt returner.

Dunn has caught two passes for 21 yards and rushed twice for six yards this year, but where he has really helped the team this season is as a punt returner. He has run back seven and is averaging an impressive 24.4 yards per return even though he had a touchdown called back in game two due to a block below the waist well behind the play. In game one vs. ULM, his 66-yard return was his first for a touchdown since high school in Augusta, Ga.

Dunn credits the punt return team with doing a good job of blocking. Asked if he has gotten better as a returner, he says, "I think I've improved--just overall vision and trying to break tackles and staying low to the ground...I'm just trying to get the first 10 to 15 yards for the offense. As long as I'm trying to get those 15 to 10 yards, one extra block can turn into 20 to 30 yards."

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