Even though he has been resigned to more of a coaching role for the Auburn defense in 2012 after playing a lot early on in his senior season, no one can accuse T'Sharvan Bell of not being a team player. Playing a role on special teams and recovering a fumbled punt against Arkansas, Bell is doing his part for the team at the moment, but he's not seeing some of his teammates delivering the same kind of effort.
"We've got certain guys you have to question their effort, and it shows on film," Bell said. "You've got some guys who are kind of borderline because they're not playing as much as they'd like. We've just got to get everybody to be all in. The guys who are not all in simply need to get gone."
Saying that it's not as much effort as execution, Bell added that it's the little things that show up and make a difference when you're struggling and that's the case with the Tigers.
It's body language," Bell said. "You can tell when a guy is borderline, maybe jogging from here to there. Coach has to keep repeating the littlest things, and they don't want to fix it as a player. Those are the guys who are borderline: 'I kind of want to be there; I kind of don't.' Right now, we're 1-4, and a lot of guys are, 'I can't wait until this is over.' We can't have that. We'll continue to lose if we have that mindset. Those guys are like that…I don't want to get rid of anybody on the team. I love all the guys. But one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch."
That may sound like some serious internal problems, but Bell said it's more about just taking what happens on the practice field to the game and making plays. He said if they can just have some success things will fall into place.
"I don't know if we're struggling internally," Bell said. "We go out there and have great practices. It's a matter of taking it to the practice field to the game. In practice, we do a lot of great things and we get real fired up about the game. Saturday comes, and it just doesn't look the same as Tuesday and Wednesday in practice."
Ford Filling Leadership Role
Dee Ford said that one of the toughest things to deal with as a young player is handling adversity and that means losses. Many players come off very successful high school teams and rarely lose football games, so when a losing streak occurs it's tough to handle. Ford said you never accept losing, but how you deal with it determines your season and how you mature as a man.
"When you're a young guy, most of the time you're going to do what you see older guys doing," Ford said. "You feed off their energy. When I was young, there were times when we went on a losing streak. I fed off the older guys. They basically led the way and I followed. That's basically the same approach we're taking now. You don't change how you approach the day, how I come into this complex. I don't change my body language at all. Not saying that I don't care that we lost. I'm just saying that everything's fine. We're going to get better. We're just going to keep moving forward. They feed off that, whether we know it or not. I feel like they're going to be fine as long as we keep up that energy and keep everything just like it was when we started the season so it's not different."
Whitaker Lays Down the Law
The toughest part of the schedule is still to come for Auburn with a pair of road trips at Ole Miss and Vanderbilt coming up and still games against ranked opponents Texas A&M, Georgia and Alabama on the schedule. That makes for a tough challenge for even a hot football team, but with the Tigers struggling mightily it's a daunting task to say the least. Because of that defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker said all they can do is keep working hard and make something good happen.
"One thing here that will never change, and it's Auburn, there's no such thing as quitting," Whitaker said. "Nobody is even thinking about throwing in the towel. No, we're thinking about, we're strapping up our pads, we're putting on our cleats Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and when Saturday comes, from the work we put in in practice, we expect to win. I think every week in the SEC is a gut check. It's like any given Saturday, you know, somebody, the No. 1 team could lose, the worst team in the league could win, and I think we take that mentality into every game. We take it one game at a time. That's the mentality we want to take with Ole Miss. It's one game at a time. It's the next game on the schedule. It's the next deal we've got to do."