It's Not All Newton

While Auburn QB Cameron Newton gets most of the ink, the Tiger defense has drawn the attention of the Rebel offensive coordinators, Dave Rader and Mike Markuson. Read their comments inside.

It's easy to see why Auburn Quarterback Cameron Newton gets most of the attention when the topic of discussion is the Tigers.

The current front runner for the Heisman Trophy has led his team to an 8-0 record entering Saturday's game with Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

Newton is the real deal, no question about it, but the Rebel offensive players, who will try to keep scoring pace with the Tigers during the game, will never come in contact with the talented Plainsman signal-caller.

They have their own issues to deal with - Auburn's defense.

"They have a very good defense. They are playing extremely well," said Co-Offensive Coordinator Davie Rader, who also coaches the Reb quarterbacks. "They are good at all the pressure points.

Dave Rader

"They can bring four-man pressure when you are passing and they can stuff the run. It all revolves around Nick Fairley, who is such a good player. The linebackers runs well, the safeties are very active and their corners have good cover skills."

And, according to Rader, the scheme isn't too shabby either.

"What they are doing with those guys is very good. They put their players in position to make plays. You can see why it's hard to score on them," Rader continued. "Basically, they just have a real good defense.

"They are not really an attacking kind of defense. They bring pressure, but they can do it with four defensive linemen. They don't have to use five or six to get pressure. When they do bring extra people, they are hard to handle. They are not real tricky, but when they bring a blitz, they are good at it."

Rader is tutoring Rebel Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli, who has also garnered some positive headlines with his play lately.

"Jeremiah has become the voice of experience for a very inexperienced offense," Dave noted. "We put a lot on him to be the leader of our group and he has responded. His calm and maturity has helped us a lot in the huddle."

Last week against Arkansas, the Rebels also got a big game out of senior Wide Receiver Markeith Summers.

"One of the things you love about the game of football, and one of the things you love about Coach (Houston) Nutt being our head coach, is that you can get second chances to redeem yourself," he explained. "Markeith had a poor game against Alabama, but Coach Nutt stayed with him and let him know we believed in him and he responded.

"That was great to see. We need him to perform that way."

OL Coach Mike Markuson, who shares coordinator duties with Rader, is more closely tied to the Rebel front.

Once again, the Rebs will be starting a different offensive line, the sixth time this year with a tweaked lineup.

"We are working all scenarios and all combinations inside, especially since we have a couple of guys who are gimped up," said Mike. "You have to be ready if something happens.

"Patrick Junen, Jared Duke, Tank Washington, Michael Brown, Josh Tatum and Emmanuel McCray have had good practices. Sometimes seasons roll like this with the injury bug - it's hard to explain. Some years, you have nothing happen injury-wise. But, hey, we have kids on scholarship and we need them to show why. That's how I look at it. I have been pleased with how they have tried to respond."

Mike is calling for the Rebels to do something they have not done - really - this season.

Mike Markuson

"We need a 60-minute ball game. That's been our biggest disappointment, especially last week. We did not play well up front. It was by far our worst performance on the offensive line," Markuson assessed. "We have to do better. We have to correct things. We have to get it right against Auburn."

To "get it right," Markuson has moved A.J. Hawkins back to center and has moved freshman Jared Duke up to the top spot at right guard.

LT Bradley Sowell, RT Bobby Massie and LG Junen will remain as starters.

"A.J. is more of a natural center. Evan (Swindall) has done a nice job, but we feel A.J. is the way to go for now," he explained. "Jared has had a good week of practice. We'll see how it unfolds."

Mike will be matching up against a familiar foe - Auburn DL Coach Tracy Rocker, who was with the Ole Miss staff at Arkansas and for one year at Ole Miss.

"Rock has them playing well. They are big, athletic, they chase the ball. You have to get four hands on them and stay on them, especially Nick Fairley. We have to play with good pad level and play with good leverage - that's what it is all about," Markuson added. "There are no secrets between Rock and I. I know what he does and he knows what I do.

"It's going to boil down to who executes and who is the most physical. It's all about striking someone and being physical for 60 minutes."

Cameron Newton is the focal point of the Auburn team. There's little question about that.

The Rebel offense, however, will have plenty to deal with.

They have to overcome Auburn's defense and their own lack of consistency, to this point.

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