Coming into the year Coach Al Borges' troops were looking to improve a unit that struggled for much of last year to match the production from the previous two seasons.
One of the keys for their success was exoected to be senior King Dunlap at left tackle. A big building block on offense after starting every game in the 2006 season, Dunlap was hoping for a big finish to his career, but it hasn't happened that way as he has instead watched a portion of the year from the sidelines after struggling early in the year.
After the offense struggled to make plays in the first three games, Coach Hugh Nall looked to freshmen Ryan Pugh and Chaz Ramsey to spark things and they did just that. Despite working at center for the entire preseason, Pugh jumped in at left tackle and held onto the spot until injuring his ankle against Arkansas.
Playing well in Pugh's absence, Dunlap was again on the sidelines to start the Georgia game as Pugh returned from his injury and was inserted into the starting lineup. While Dunlap eventually came in when Pugh's energy level ran down, the Nashville native notes it was hard to watch that game from the bench in the first half.
"It's always tough," Dunlap says. "You always think you can go out there and help and change things. They came out and jumped on us in the second half and did what they had to do. We didn't execute on offense. It's just tough to lose like that."
Dunlap and his fellow seniors are determined not to let that happen again with the biggest game of the season remaining with the Iron Bowl almost here. Not a native of Alabama, Dunlap says that he knew about the rivalry growing up, but since arriving at Auburn he's learned just how important this game is to everyone involved and knows it will define his senior year forever.
"No matter what, if we lose every game and beat Alabama that still makes our season," Dunlap says. "That's how big the rivalry is. It doesn't matter who has the better record you have to go out there and play. Anybody can beat anybody. It's just a great atmosphere and a great game. I can't wait.
"I had heard about it while I was being recruited," Dunlap adds. "I had heard about the Auburn-Alabama game and how much of a rivalry it was, but I didn't really know until I got here in my freshman year in 2003. That Sunday when we got back from the Georgia game there were already fans here lined up. That whole week was just crazy. I'm sure it will be the same way this year, too. You'll never experience anything like it. It's great. I love it."