By Jay Coulter
Auburn fans everywhere seem to be muted this week as the Tigers prepare for Saturday’s showdown with third ranked Florida. And let’s face it, there are plenty of reasons to be. I believe we’re all still coming to grips with the idea of three freshmen starting on the offensive line at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
But remember, they wouldn’t be there if they didn’t deserve it.
“They’ve got those young guys out there, and they are definitely coming off the ball,” said running back Ben Tate. “When that happens, that helps me get into the secondary a lot better and show my talent. They are mature freshmen. They step up to the plate. They are hungry and they want it. I told them before the game ‘I’m going to ride with you 100 percent, no matter what.’”
Ryan Pugh will lineup at left tackle and Chaz Ramsey will start at right guard. As usual, Lee Ziemba will be at right tackle. King Dunlap and Mike Berry are healed up from their injuries and will be ready to go if called on. Both have practiced with the second team this week.
For those of you who doubt Auburn’s chances this weekend, I give you another Shug Jordan quote. This was passed along to me yesterday from my buddy Kelvin Redd; and I think it fits this weekend perfectly…
“Gentlemen, I can see by the look in some of your eyes that you don’t believe Auburn can win this weekend. Well, the team bus is waiting. I want only those who believe Auburn can win to go get on it.”
Slowly, one by one, the Auburn team rose from their seats and began to file onto the team bus. Within only a minute or two, every chair in the room was empty, and unranked Auburn went on to Birmingham and defeated fourth-ranked Tennessee 10-6 in what was a monumental upset of the Volunteers in 1972.
If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine, then you are dead.
As we’ve talked before, getting an accurate injury report is damn near impossible at Auburn. Tommy Tuberville rarely gives a straight answer when talking about injuries. He’s been saying for two weeks that Tray Blackmon is practicing and may play in the next game.
Tuberville’s saying the same thing this week. Blackmon is probable for Saturday. Again.
Things are not so good for linebacker Merrill Johnson. He is definitely out and will be missed big time. Punter Patrick Tatum may miss the trip to Florida because of a death in the family.
How about some good news? Running back Tristin Davis returned to practice yesterday and could possible play Saturday night. If he does, it will likely be on the kickoff return team. Boy, do we need him.
I’ll leave you today with this quote from the Montgomery Advertiser. It sums up the Auburn defense about as well as anything I’ve heard all year…
“Auburn’s defense is like a Quentin Tarantino movie. Starts slowly, ends slowly. The middle is good.”