Tidbits from the week -

Coming off a 38-3 loss is bad enough. Being 2-6 is bad enough. But Monday things got a little worse, one would say, when one player was dismissed, one quit and four were suspended. How do the Rebels pick up the pieces? By not letting anything distract them. Read about it inside.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the epitome of what coaches want in football players.

Mature, hard-working, determined and unfazed by past events. Win or lose, he's always reaching for the next challenge, be it the next lift, practice snap, or game carry.

Members of the media have found out this year that BJGE, although a man with an economy with words who gets straight to the point, is probably the most even-keeled player on the team.

So what does he think of where the Rebel team is and what happened Monday with some team members being disciplined for off-the-field antics?

"It's rough to be 2-6. It's rough to have internal problems, but we can't linger on those things," BenJarvus, one of the leading rushers in the SEC, said. "Nobody wants to lose. Everybody hates losing or you never would have made it to this level in the first place, but when it happens, you have to put it behind you and move forward."

The off-the-field problems that were well-publicized earlier in the week are behind the team, he said.

"You can't look in the rearview mirror," he said. "We don't have that choice. To tell you the truth, we are fine. That wasn't really a distraction to us because we have to focus on what we have to do individually and as a team."

For his part, BenJarvus looks forward to tomorrow's game with Auburn.

"The only time I look back is when we watch film from the previous game on Monday and all I see is plays that are there to be made and we aren't making enough of them," he noted. "But Monday is when the frustration stops.

"We'll be facing a very good Auburn defense. They play a lot of Bear defense, probably more than anyone we face plays. Everyone on the offensive line will be covered up in the Bear alignment. It's not complicated - you just have to perform. Auburn moves to the ball well. We have to be sharp. We have to continue to get better every week."

* WLB Rory Johnson said the only thing that's changed this week, in his mind, is the weather.

"It's a little wetter and a little cooler, but we're still doing the same things we do every week - working to get better," he said, after a media member asked him about off-the-field distractions. "We've moved on from the Arkansas game - that was last week. This is this week and it's all about Auburn.

"We're looking for ways to be more assignment sound and getting better. That's our only goal, everything else is secondary. As a team, we can't worry now about what happened last Saturday, or last Monday, all we can do is focus on the now."

Rory said the spotlight for the Rebel defense is on Auburn's offense, nothing else.

"Smash-mouth football. That's what they are all about. I'm ready for it," he continued. "I love playing against good backs in the SEC and Kenny Irons is a good one. He's hard-nosed and really likes to hit the hole hard and fast.

"He looks lean, but he tries to run over you. He's tough, but we want to lay the lumber on him and see how he reacts. They'll come right at us and we'll come right at them. They want to see how hard you are."

Rory believes it's just a coincidence the Rebs have played poorly with the 11:30 start times this year. The Auburn game is also at 11:30.

"I have to admit, I'm not a morning person. I get up at 7:50 for my 8 o'clock classes," he laughed, "but when the kickoff is at 11:30, we've got plenty of time to get going.

"We get up around 6 and have a little breakfast and meet as a team. Then we get a little nap and come on to the stadium. Morning starts aren't the natural routine, but that has nothing to do with how we've played in our morning games this year."

* Free Safety Charles Clark watched this week as starting Strong Safety Jamarca Sanford was moved to Sam Linebacker and fellow senior B. Brown was moved to starting strong safety in Jamarca's place.

"The moves are working well. Our morale is good and the guys who are moving around are excited about the challenge they face with a new position," he explained. "I have a lot of faith in Jamarca at SLB and he knows we will do everything we can to have his back."

Clark believes Sanford can handle the linebacker position.

"In some of our defensive calls, the strong safety fits like a linebacker, so he's been closer to the line of scrimmage before many times. Now he won't have any deep coverage responsibilities, so that will help him some. I think going from strong safety to linebacker is one of the easiest moves you can make, mentally," Clark stated. "Jamarca is perfect for LB. He's full-speed all the time and he likes to hit. I think the change will be good for him.

"He's coming off an ankle injury, so I think he'll be ready to go."

As a senior, Clark has been preaching to the younger defensive players on the team to be ready every week. His advice to them may be coming to a head this week.

"With what happened Monday, several guys are going to have to play more, especially on special teams. They are prepared - they have been preparing every week like the older guys told them to because you never know when you might be called on. Now they know. I think they will be ready to perform," Charles assessed. "We've had a lot happen to us this year, but we have stayed positive and focused. That's all you can do."

Clark understands the challenges Auburn's offense presents to the Reb defense.

"They like to set the tone with their running game and come right at you, but we can't take our eyes off their receivers or lose coverage focus because they are a balanced offense," said Charles. "Their receivers are like the ones we have been facing all year - big and physical. They come off the ball hard and have good speed. They run good routes and catch the ball in big situations. They are also physical downfield blockers.

"They'll be a typical SEC team - try to run the ball first and throw it if they have to or to keep you off-balance and honest in what you do on defense. Every week we know we are going to face great backs. You just have to be ready. Kenny Irons is more about power, hitting holes full speed and keeping his legs going. He's a lot like Cadillac Williams, style-wise. He doesn't look very big, but he runs hard and determined."

* Right Guard John Jerry laughs about it now, but at the time of his concussion last Saturday, it wasn't real funny.

"It was hard watching from the sidelines, being groggy. I remember everything, but I didn't need to be in the game," said Jerry, who missed more than half of the Arkansas game. "That was my first time to ever have a concussion. I was a little loopy and Coach O said 'you are too big to be knocked out.'

"I know I'm ready to get back in there and prove Coach O right. It's funny now, but I was loopy for a little while."

Jerry is looking forward to facing Auburn's defensive line.

"They get after you. They run to the football well, they play hard and they play low. We've got our hands full, but we'll be up for it," Jerry continued. "I played against Quentin Groves in high school when he was at Greenville. He was a senior and I was a sophomore.

"He was a great athlete, but we (South Panola) shot them down in high school. That shouldn't surpise you - we shot everyone down in high school. (smiling) Quentin is a great athlete though, he had a lot of tackles against us. You could tell he was going to be a great player in college. He's so fast with that size. He can flat-out play."

John said his progress has been sure.

"The season goes really fast, each game is like a blink of an eye, but I've been able to progress like I wanted to," he said. "I've been blessed to be surrounded by guys like Andrew Wicker, Michael Oher, Corey Actis and all those guys. They make sure you know what you are doing at all times and help you when you aren't quite sure of something.

"I give them and Coach (Art) Kehoe all the credit for any improvements I've had. If not for those guys, I wouldn't be where I am right now."

John said there is one valuable lesson he has learned through eight games - ease up on the aggression in pass protection.

"I was getting beat in pass pro early in the year because I was too aggressive. You have to be aggressive in run-blocking and more patient in pass pro. You have to let the pass rushers kind of come to you. I had to learn that the hard way," he noted. "I'm getting it down now."

* Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner has seen a lot of improvement this year from backup QB Seth Adams.

"When I first got here, I think we had two scholarship QBs and he wasn't one of them," Dan began. "We were just trying to see what we had and I could tell quickly that Seth was like a sponge in terms of learning things quickly.

"He did a good job with learning the offense. I watched film on him from his JUCO days and I could see he could throw the ball decent. He was a nice surprise in spring - he played better every day."

When fall rolled around, Werner knew Brent Schaeffer was going to be the starter, but he was pleased with his backup, Adams, as well.

"Seth knew from the start what the situation was. He's handled being a backup well. He doesn't let much faze him. He just keeps working hard and doing what we ask him to do to be the best he can be," Werner stated. "I am very comfortable now in putting Seth in the game. We can use him to give us a spark sometimes, I feel.

"Normally, you have your starter and you might be a little worried if he gets hurt, but I feel confident with putting Seth in there."

Adams gained roughly 15 pounds in the offseason, which Werner said wasn't mandatory, but certainly doesn't hurt his cause.

"Any time you can get stronger it helps, but some of the best QBs I ever coached did not belong on muscle posters, that's for sure," Dan continued. "That just shows me Seth knew he could improve by being stronger and he worked hard to do it. I can tell a little difference in the velocity he has on the ball."

As far as the offense is concerned, Werner said it's not where he wants it to be - obviously, but some good has come about this year to this point.

"We'd like to be a lot further along. We have our share of negatives - starting with the stats that prove we are not where we need to be, but we have cut way back on negative plays and we have had no turnovers in the last two games, which is really good," he evaluated. "If we hang on to the football and are smart with the ball, we have a chance.

"Now we have to figure out a way to create big plays, which is where we are now. Our wide receivers are a work in progress."

Last week is a prime example of what Werner was referring to about leaving plays to be made on the table.

"Between poor throws or drops, or having guys open where we could have had completions if we made the right reads, there was 375 yards of passing left on the field. Obviously, you are not going to complete all those, but if we complete half, we had roughly 180 yards more and our total for the game is 320 yards passing. Then, you are a pretty good offense," he explained.

So what's the solution?

"We just have to keep working on it and correcting our mistakes. We have to shore up the timing and communication with reps, reps and more reps," he ended. "We are a threat in the running game and have to become a threat in the passing game to be a polished, fine-tuned, balanced offense. We are working on it as hard as we can."

OM Spirit Top Stories