Newcomer Stepping Up for Tigers

Demond Washington has seen plenty of action so far this season for Coach Gene Chizik's Auburn football team.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gene Chizik says he is seeing steady progress in the performance of newcomer Demond Washington. That is a good thing for the Auburn defense because the cornerback could be a busy man on Saturday night.

With starter Walt McFadden questionable as he recovers from a knee sprain suffered last Saturday, Washington is expected to move into the starting lineup if needed as Auburn takes on Kentucky in an SEC football game at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"I am getting a lot more comfortable," Washington tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I have got my plays down so I can play fast without having to think about what I am supposed to do."

As much as Washington loves to play and would enjoy starting, he says that he would prefer to senior McFadden, a senior, ready for action vs. the Wildcats.

"I hope he is ready to go because he is a big part of our defense," says Washington, who transferred to Auburn this year from junior college. "If not I will have to step up to the plate. Walt is a great role model. When I got here I didn't know the plays, but he was willing to come early to practice and stay late after practice to help me out."

Chizik says that it will be a game day decision whether or not McFadden plays vs. Kentucky.

Washington has seen significant action and is called onto the field when the Tigers go into their nickel package by adding an extra defensive back in obvious passing situations. "I am getting better, but there is a lot of improvement I?need to make in every aspect of the game," he says.

Phillip Lolley, who coaches Auburn's cornerbacks, notes that he likes what he has seen from Washington. "He is really picking the game up quicker than I expected him to pick it up at this level," says Lolley, who points out that Washington has done a good job of learning his assignments in Auburn's base defense and special pass coverage packages. "He is really, really ahead of where I?thought he would be."

Demond Washington

The Tigers will bring a 5-1 record into Saturday's game vs. Kentucky that kicks off at 6:30 p.m. CDT. The contest will be televised by ESPNU. The Tigers had won five straight games before falling 44-23 at Arkansas last week.

"We were down after the loss, which, of course, is a bad thing, but we are going to try to make a good thing of it by bouncing back, learning from what we did wrong and hopefully play good football the rest of the season," Washington says.

"I think we will bounce back pretty good from the loss," he adds. "There are always going to be some stumbles along the way, but we can overcome this."

Washington, who played offense and defense in junior college, says he hopes he will get a chance to show his running skills in the second half of the season. "I returned punts earlier this year and I am trying to talk the coaches into letting me get back out there," he says. "I will do whatever I need to do for the team to win."

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