Auburn Senior Looking for Better Play

Linebacker Merrill Johnson discusses his Tigers as Auburn prepares for another SEC football test.

Auburn, Ala.--Senior Merrill Johnson admits his team's second loss of the football season still hurts as the Auburn Tigers prepare for a home game this Saturday vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks.

The starting weakside linebacker from Choctaw County High in Butler has 21 tackles going into game seven, but says what he is concerned about is winning football games.

"Right now, after coming off a loss, it is hard, but as a team we are going to get ourselves together and we are going to put the loss behind us and continue to press forward," he tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "We are little banged up now as a team, but we will be fine."

The Tigers lost their top two defensive players to injuries in the 14-13 loss to Vandy, junior cornerback Jerraud Powers and junior defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks. Marks, who has ankle sprain, may be ready for this week's contest vs. the Razorbacks. Powers, who suffered a hamstring injury, is questionable.

Other key defensive players who are nursing injuries include end Antonio Coleman (pulled leg muscle), end Michael Goggans (ankle), safety Zac Etheridge (shoulder), linebacker Tray Blackmon (wrist) and linebacker Craig Stevens (ankle).

Auburn dropped to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the league after losing to surprising Vandy, which improved to 5-0 for the first time since 1943. "They were a pretty good team," Johnson says. "They were unbeaten coming in against us. We had a few mistakes. We came out fast, but didn't finish. We have to get better."

Asked what the message the seniors can give their younger teammates as they try to bounce back this week vs. the Razorbacks, Johnson says, "It's all about coming out every day trying to get better as a team."

Johnson stays on the team theme when asked if he is happy with how he is playing at linebacker. "Coming off a loss when we didn't play well enough to win, we all need to improve," he says.

Kickoff for Saturday's game is 4 p.m. from Jordan-Hare Stadium. The only television coverage is pay-per-view.

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