Tiger Tailback Has Respect For Cats

Kenny Irons

Kenny Irons comments on Saturday's opponents as his Tigers prepare to head north for a game at Commonwealth Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--Even though Auburn is favored by more than three touchdowns over Kentucky, Auburn tailback Kenny Irons says he is taking the Wildcats seriously and trying not to look ahead to the rivalry games coming up the following two weeks vs. Georgia and Alabama.

"They could come out and beat you," Irons says of Kentucky, who comes into the game with a 2-5 record overall and 1-3 in the SEC. "We can't look past them or be thinking about Georgia while we're playing Kentucky because they'll snap us in the butt."

The Wildcats have allowed just 20 points in their last two SEC games against Ole Miss and Mississippi State, but Auburn is a heavy favorite to take its 15th straight victory in the series vs. the Wildcats.

"They run a 4-3 defense," Irons says. "Last year they ran a 30 defense. Now they run a base 4-3 and they have a strong defense. They've got a strong team and you can't look at their win/loss category, you have just got to go play them like they are a Georgia, a Florida or an Alabama."

Irons started the season slowly with only 34 yards in the first two games against Georgia Tech and Mississippi State. Since then he has five 100-yard performances in the last six games. In the last two games, against LSU and Ole Miss, the junior tailback has played well despite having a bruised thigh and a sore knee.

The tailback was moving well in Thursday's practice and looks ready to make a run at another good rushing game this week.

A different Tiger tailback, Brad Lester, has had a more serious problem and has been sidelined with a groin pull. There is an outside chance he will be back this weekend and he got work with the backups in Thursday's practice, unlike tailback Carl Stewart, who is out of action for several more weeks with a knee sprain suffered vs. Ole Miss.

Irons carries the football in last Saturday's victory over the Ole Miss Rebels.

Having carried the ball 33, 27 and 32 times in the last three weeks for a total of 501 yards, it is not surprising that Irons is bruised and battered. "This is the first time I have had 30-something carries a game and my body is still getting used to it," Irons says. "I know I can handle getting beat up. I believe I am tough. Sometimes you have to fight through. I just have to keep working my butt off."

Tiger head coach Tommy Tuberville says there is no plan to limit the number of carries Irons has, but it will be a surprise if he runs the ball 30 times vs. the Wildcats, particularly if Auburn has the game under control early in the second half as was the case last year in a 42-10 AU victory.

Tre Smith will be the number two tailback for the Tigers vs. the Wildcats and Tristan Davis is available for duty if needed. Running backs coach Eddie Gran notes that fullback Jake Slaughter can run the tailback plays out of one-back sets if needed.

Auburn enters the game at 6-2 overall and is looking to stay in the race in the West with a 4-1 conference mark. Kickoff is scheduled for noon CST with no television coverage.

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