Junior Defensive End Has Reason To Smile

Reggie Torbor is looking forward to the Capital One Bowl game vs. the Penn State Nittany Lions.

Orlando, Fla.--Reggie Torbor is smiling a lot these days and it is not just because he just got back from visiting Disney World and Mickey Mouse.

The junior defensive end has been impressive in practice as the Tigers put in the game plan for a New Year's Day Capital One Bowl date against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Unlike most weeks this season, it hasn't been that tough for the veteran defensive end to look good because after a season-long series of injuries, he is finally healthy.

"Physically, I am better than I have been in a long while," the 6-3, 245-pound junior says. "I am running around and getting my quickness back. My body feels great, to say the least. I had so many injuries this season. It seemed like every game I had a different injury. My body, as well as the rest of the defense, has healed."

Having almost everybody on the defense ready to contribute at full speed, or close to it, helped the Tigers to play better football down the stretch. Defensive tackles Demarco McNeil and Spencer Johnson are moving better after being slowed by injuries. The same is true of linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, who hurt a knee early in the season, and linebacker Karlos Dansby, who has recovered from an ankle problem

"Our defense is now healthy and is what we thought we would have before the season started," Torbor notes. He adds that the fact that most of Auburn's key defensive players were not slowed by injuries explains the strong defensive showing in the regular season finale, a 17-7 victory at Alabama. "It is as simple as that," he says. "Some players just pick the defense up. I think we got healthy, we got confident and we got rolling.

"We also heard some people say we couldn't do something and that motivated us in the Alabama game. If you sit down and look at that game, they shouldn't even have scored. They got two penalties on their scoring drive, we had some missed tackles and we let them start on the 50 so we can do better."

Auburn's next shot to play better will come against a 9-3 Penn State team on Wednesday. Torbor would like to see the Tigers come out strong and head into the offseason with plenty of momentum for what is expected to be an exciting 2003 season. If the Tigers stay healthy and get their share of good breaks, Torbor predicts Auburn will have a powerful team next year. "In good years, you have to have a couple of balls bounce your way so things like that have to happen," he says, pointing out that the nation's current No. 1 team, Miami, had to catch a lucky break on a missed FSU field goal to keep from going down during the regular season.

Reggie Torbor was named SEC Player of the Week this year for a strong performance in a victory at Mississippi State.

Torbor says that the Tigers want to win the Capital One Bowl because a loss to end the season is harder to deal with because, as he notes, "You have to wait so long to redeem yourself."

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