For the only time this year there may be family members that root against the Tigers, something that guard Ben Grubbs says he’s already experienced.
“Growing up most of my family were Alabama fans and you have a couple of Auburn fans,” Grubbs says. “That’s all we hear. My cousins came to my house Sunday night and they were talking big talk for Alabama. It makes it a little more personal for me because I am from Alabama and some of the people that play on their team I know. I have friends that go to Alabama.
"It’s important, but at the same time you want to block that out too because you don’t want to get distracted. You want to stay focused. It plays its part, but really you try to block it out.”
Ben Grubbs blocks a Mississippi State Bulldog earlier this season.
Being familiar with the opponent and the rivalry is nothing new for Grubbs and the Tigers. Playing for Auburn or Alabama you learn very quickly what this game means to both sides. Because of Auburn’s current situation with a perfect record and a shot at the national title down the line, the former linebacker says that he doesn’t believe this team will have any difficulty putting the BCS talk to the side and playing football this weekend.
“I don’t think we’ll have any problem blocking out all the talk,” Grubbs says. “We’re playing Alabama. It’s one of the nation’s best rivalry games. That says it all. Personally, I don’t think about the talk anyway. We just do what we’re supposed to do and winning will take care of everything. That’s what we hope to do after another great week of practice. We’ll be ready.”
When Auburn takes on Alabama the Tigers will be coming off a game in which they added to their already high confidence. In bombing the Georgia Bulldogs 24-6 the Tigers controlled both lines of scrimmage, particularly on offense where each lineman graded out highly against one of the top defensive lines in the SEC.
“Just playing a team like Georgia and the great team that they are, it just motivates itself,” Grubbs says. “We had a great week of practice and we felt like the coaches prepared us well enough to go out and do what we did. From the first snap to the last we were just so hyped and did what we knew we could.”
For Grubbs it was the continuation of a strong season in his first year at guard. Recruited as a linebacker out of Elmore County High, he moved to defensive tackle and later tight end before switching to guard last spring. In just a few months Grubbs has established himself as a strong blocker and a potential future star at the position, something hard to believe for Grubbs.
“When I played in the scrimmage game, the A-Day game, my technique wasn’t good at all and I really didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing,” Grubbs says. “I watch film today and I’m kind of proud of myself. I still have a long ways to go, but I have come a long way being that it’s my first year. I’ll keep working hard. I have improved at the position. It makes it easier when you have Coach (Hugh) Nall and the teammates that I have to help you.”
Grubbs and his fellow offensive linemen will need to be at the top of their games on Saturday when they face one of the nation’s top-rated defenses in Alabama. Although the Tigers have had great success in Tuscaloosa, never losing in four previous games on Alabama’s campus, Grubbs says that won’t have any impact on this year’s game because every team and season is different.
“Somebody brought it to my attention that Auburn hasn’t lost there in a while,” Grubbs says. “It’s a good feeling knowing that, but at the same time it doesn’t matter if you don’t prepare yourself. We’re just going to prepare as we always have for this game.”
Making sure that everybody is ready to play this week is senior running back Carnell Williams. An Alabama fan growing up, Williams has grown to really enjoy playing against the Crimson Tide after missing out of the opportunity each of his first two seasons minus five plays as a freshman. Grubbs says there is no doubt that the Tigers will be ready to play the Iron Bowl because that’s what you do as an Auburn Tiger.
“He shook my hand and told me good game,” Grubbs says of Williams. “I told him 'you, too.' I told him that we’ve got to keep it up and he said, You know dog that I’m going to be ready.' There’s nothing to be said really.”