One of the players making an impact was defensive lineman Kenneth Carter. After playing in the season opener, Carter had not seen action in the last three close games for the Tigers but on Saturday there he was again on the field with a chance to get some playing experience. In the backfield early and often, the Greenville native showed glimpses of some good things down the road. He said for him it was just another chance to get better.
"It was awesome," Carter said. "When you're on the sidelines you want to get in but you don't know if you're going to do right or not. My main thing was not to have any missed assignments, to go as hard as I can. Mainly I just wanted to go vertical and make sure I was in the right gap. It was just awesome to be out there."
At 6-5 and just over 280 pounds, Carter is built similar to Auburn junior Nick Fairley as both have the look of another former Auburn standout Jay Ratliff. Interestingly enough Ratliff was on the Auburn sidelines for the game on Saturday as the Dallas Cowboys are off this weekend. While Ratliff could be a player to look up to, Carter said the guy in front of him every day is showing him how to excel at the position.
"I watch him a lot," Carter said of Fairley. "He's tall and big just like me. We're very similar. I try to get off the ball as quick as Nick. I kind of look at him a lot to learn from him.
"I'm trying to make an impact on the game," Carter added. "That's what I'm trying to do. When I'm in there I try to use my hands and go hard. Make sure my feet are chopping, get them in the ground. Coach (Tracy) Rocker always tells me to get my feet in the ground and get in the right gap."
Part of a young defensive line that included starters Nosa Eguae (freshman) and Dee Ford (sophomore) along with reserves Jeffrey Whitaker, Corey Lemonier, Derrick Lykes and Jamar Travis, Carter and Auburn shut down the Warhawks on the ground and kept them out of the end zone in the second half.
That was important not only for the confidence of the reserves, but also starters like Eguae. He said seeing the back ups come in and keep the momentum going was a huge step forward for the defense heading into a brutal stretch of SEC games.
"It's huge," Eguae said of getting the young guys involved. "Out there in the third and fourth quarter it was a freshman front. I know that's the guys I'm going to be going to war with for the next four or five years. As it goes on we try to get better as a unit. The more we can get that game experience the more we can go out there and play those types of games.
"Those are good players," Eguae added. "You see them perform in practice and for them to get in the game and still make those kinds of plays they make in practice is big. They are players we're really going to count on in the future."