Defense Stepping Up Says Senior CB

Senior Walter McFadden talks about the defense and his role as a leader.

Auburn, Ala.--With several veterans missing off Auburn's defense from last season, the need for leaders to step up has been a big one in spring practice. One of the players that has been called upon is senior cornerback Walter McFadden. Not the most vocal of players, McFadden says he's had to learn how to be the guy the coaches are looking for on the field.

"It has gotten a lot better," McFadden says. "At first it was kind of slow. I was kind of talking to the guys behind the coaches' backs letting them know what they were doing. The coaches were getting on my about being out loud in front of everybody, I didn't need to hide it."

As one of the veterans on the defense, McFadden has also gotten used to being left alone during practice sessions as the quarterbacks tend to try to pick on the other side of the field as much as possible. He says that's something he's gotten used to, but in doing so he believes it's really helped the younger cornerbacks mature especially Neiko Thorpe.

"It's kind of lonely over there on my side," McFadden says. "By them throwing the ball at Neiko he has stepped up. He's making a lot of plays. I'm very proud of him."

This Saturday the defense will square off against the offense in the annual A-Day game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. McFadden says that when they take the field this weekend the defense will have plenty of confidence about the way it is playing.

That's because the last time out the defense dominated the offense in a scrimmage situation. With Thorpe intercepting a pass for a touchdown and the front four making plays, McFadden says it was a fun day as they took everything the offense had to offer and still held their ground.

"It was very intense," McFadden says. "The defense kept pushing at the offense to let them know we weren't scared. Coach (Gene) Chizik was putting us in bad positions so the offense could score and give them a chance to get more confidence. The defense just kept taking it away. It reminded me of the Mississippi State game, just get out there and keep playing."

The biggest question mark this spring hasn't been on defense though as the Tigers are looking for a quarterback to guide the offense. McFadden says he's seen good things from all the guys in the spring and feels like any of them can get the job done when called upon.

A question has been asked though, how does the lack of a starter right now affect the entire football team? In most situations the quarterback is thought of as the leader of the team that everybody follows. McFadden says while it will be good to get a starter named as soon as possible, he doesn't feel like it's hurting the team at all to have competition right now.

"A lot of teams look at their quarterback to be the leader," McFadden says. "That's not our case here. A lot of time we feel that the defense is the leader here. We don't think that's a problem."

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