Injured Lineman Looking to Improve

Auburn defender Mike Blanc discusses the defense as the Tigers look to end their losing streak.

Auburn, Ala.--Sophomore noseguard Mike Blanc, who returned to the starting lineup after an injury to senior Tez Dooley, says it is time to close ranks and pull together for Auburn's defense.

"Right now we're trying to count on each other," Blanc says, noting the list of healthy defensive players grows shorter every week.

"There's very few of us right now so what we've got we are closing ranks and the young guys are stepping up," the sophomore says.

Blanc himself joined the walking wounded list when he injured his hand in Saturday's game at Ole Miss. He was X-Rayed on Sunday and there were no broken bones. However, the sophomore is going to have to deal with a sprain this week as the Tigers play UT-Martin for Homecoming.

The combination of injuries throughout the defense and struggles on offense have forced defensive players to spend large amounts of time on the field and probably explains why the Tigers aren't as strong on that side of the ball as they were the first half of the season.

"On defense right now the only thing we're talking about is counting on each other and being there for the next man and executing every play and playing one play at a time," Blanc says "We've got a lot of guys hurt and a lot of young guys playing."

The Tigers fell 17-7 to Ole Miss on Saturday. Blanc notes that the Rebels didn't do anything unexpected--Auburn just failed to play well enough to stop the Rebels. "Everything they were doing we expected, and we knew it," he says. "On our part, it was executing."

The strain of losing four straight games has been taxing, he admits, but the Auburn players are still trying to improve, he adds. "We haven't really gotten everything together and played as a team yet," Blanc says. "We've got to come together as a team and execute in the second half.

"It's been awhile since Auburn has lost all these games or lost back-to-back like this," he notes. "Emotionally nobody likes it. We go out Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and practice hard and give it our all in practice and then game day comes and things don't go our way. Everybody is upset. We're looking forward to playing Auburn football again."

Blanc earned praise for his play vs. Ole Miss from head coach Tommy Tuberville, who notes it was one of the sophomore's best efforts. Blanc was in on five tackles taking over the starting assignment from Doolittle, who Auburn coaches wanted to sit out while the senior recovers from a groin injury. However, starting tackle Sen'Derrick Marks couldn't go in the second half due to hurting both ankles so Doolittle stepped in on the defensive front.

Next up for the Tigers is a 1:30 p.m. kickoff vs. the UT-Martin Skyhawks of the Ohio Valley Conference in Auburn's final non-conference game of the season.

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