Tackling a Theme for Tigers, McFadden Says

The Auburn football team is working on the basics in practice this week.

Auburn, Ala.--Senior cornerback Walter McFadden says the Auburn defense is working on tackling as the Tigers prepare for Saturday's non-conference football game vs. Ball State.

In Auburn's 41-30 victory over West Virginia last Saturday, the defense came through with six takeaways, including five pass interceptions. McFadden got one of those picks that helped the Tigers overcome an less than impressive night tackling the Mountaineers.

As a result of the tackling issues, head coach Gene Chizik and defensive coordinator Ted Roof are emphasizing that phase of the game this week. McFadden says that fundamentals are the focus of this week's practices.

"We've got to just bring our whole body into it," McFadden says about the tackling. "We've been doing a lot of arm tackling and we've been trying to knock people out with our body, just flying at them, but we also have to bring our face mask into them. That is what we've been working on lately."

Despite the defense's inconsistency against West Virginia, McFadden says he feels good about the group as the Tigers head into game four. "I think we're together, we're one," the senior cornerback says. "We all know we have to play together."

Although the defense struggled early as Auburn gave up 21 first half points, the Tigers made enough big plays on that side of the ball for a comeback victory vs. West Virginia. One of those was an interception by McFadden.

"I think we have shown so far that we play as a team," he adds. "We work with our offense, and we don't give up. We have everyone's back."

The Tigers struggled last season and finished the year with just five victories. Based on the way they have played in their three wins this season, the 2009 team looks like it has the potential to do significantly better in the won/loss column.

"This year the leadership is kind of stepping up," McFadden says. "They're showing, 'If I can do it so can you.' I feel like I don't have to say anything anymore because if they have to ask themselves what they are about to do, it's probably wrong."

With eight turnovers forced in the first three games of the season, the Tigers are ranked second nationally in that statistic at plus 2.33 per game. What is the difference from last year when he Tigers struggled to get takeaways? "You know last year I don't really remember," says McFadden, who had two interceptions in 2008. "I think at one point we were counting third down stops as turnovers. I don't know if that a good thing or bad thing. We would take it as long as we got off the field."

Auburn is a heavy favorite to improve to 4-0 this week at the expense of a Ball State team that is 0-3 coming into the 6 p.m. game on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium. McFadden says he is telling the young players that they need to respect everybody on the schedule, even a team that is off to a rough start.

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