Etheridge Taking On Leadership Role

Auburn sophomore safety Zac Etheridge talks about the loss to Vandy and depending on young players in the secondary.

Auburn, Ala.--For the Auburn defense Saturday contest against Vanderbilt was a night of ups and downs. Sure the Tigers only allowed 263 yards of total offense and 14 points, but that was after 13 points were put on the board by the offense. Throw in injuries to key performers and sophomore safety Zac Etheridge says it made for a long night.

"It was a tough fight," Etheridge says. "It's just something where you have to keep going. We had a lot of guys banged up in the game. Right now we just have to put that behind us and move forward."

With the defense not playing as well as it had in earlier games because of injuries to Jerraud Powers, Sen'Derrick Marks, Michael Goggans and Craig Stevens, the offense could have done something to help late in the second quarter and into the third by just holding onto the football. Instead on possessions started in the final three quarters Auburn ran 40 plays for a total drive yardage of 29 yards.

Zac Etheridge (left) has been a key player for the Tigers the past two seasons.

That is bound to be frustrating for a defense that is laying it on the line every play and every game.

"Sometimes it does get frustrating, but it's a team sport," Etheridge says. "We go out there on defense and do our part. We try to bring the offense along. It's a team sport so we all keep battling every play we're out there."

This week the Tigers face an Arkansas team that has struggled defensively, but is capable of moving the football under new coach Bobby Petrino. With several players banged up the defense will count on young players such as Mike Slade, Neiko Thorpe and D'Antoine Hood to fill in and get the job done.

As one of the leaders on the defense Etheridge says part of his job this week is to get them as ready as possible for what they're going to face.

"Mike Slade did pretty good," Etheridge says. "He came in and filled in at the safety spot. He's looking good. He's working hard and continuing to get better every day.

"We just have to build their confidence up," he adds. "Neiko has been looking good. D Hood will probably get in and we just have to get him confident to go out there and play and not worry about it and play his game. Other than that they just have to pick up a role in practice and just bring them along."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories