Auburn, Ala.–-Despite problems on the defensive side of the ball, a player who was singled out as playing well in the opening game is defensive end Marquies Gunn.
Starting on the strong side ahead of Quentin Groves, Gunn was the most physical of the defensive ends in fall camp and that carried over into the first game.
While his play was solid, the defense gave up 10 points early until settling down and getting the job done in the second half. Gunn says that the play of the defense late in the game gives the unit come confidence heading into the Mississippi State game on Saturday morning.
“I just tried to do my best out there,” Gunn says when informed position coach Terry Price noted he played the best of the ends. “I don’t really think about that too much. I’m just trying to do what I can.
“It felt like we got a whole lot better,” Gunn adds. “We were kind of a little slow, but as the game progressed everything came along. It was just so late.”
Gunn gets pressure on QB Reggie Ball during last week's opener.
Something that was a problem for all of the defensive ends against the Yellow Jackets was playing the run. Tech running back P. J. Daniels consistently cut underneath a rushing Tiger for good yardage in the running game, something that Gunn says can’t happen anymore.
“We practiced all week to play the run and they came out throwing the ball,” Gunn says. “Then we keyed in on rushing the passer and they started running the ball. They had us off balance.”
Last season that wasn’t a problem for the Tigers against the Mississippi State Bulldogs as Auburn raced out to a big lead and won going away in Starkville. This time around things could be quite different with coach Sylvester Croom’s team more confident on both offense and defense. Gunn says his Tigers can’t take this game lightly.
“They have a new team and we have a new team,” Gunn notes. “You don’t look at them as the same team from last year.”
Auburn and Mississippi State will kick off Saturday morning at 11:30 with television coverage Jefferson Pilot Sports. The Tigers will be shooting for their 11th consecutive conference win while the Bulldogs are looking for their first win over an SEC western division team since 2001.