Auburn, Ala.--It’s tough playing football with one ankle sprain, even for a preseason All-American. Throw in a second sprain to the other ankle and it is impossible to perform at a high level.
That’s the word from Auburn junior defensive tackle Sen’Derrick Marks, who says he is on the road to recovery from both injuries. He hurt one ankle vs. Vanderbilt and the other one in the Ole Miss game.
“I feel good,” Marks says as he prepares for Saturday’s road trip to Alabama. “I have actually been able to practice the last two or three days and I am moving around well--way better than I did the last couple of weeks.”
Marks was held out of practice during the offweek and instead of going home last weekend stayed on campus for extra treatments. “It has been good personally and for the team,” he says of the extra week to prepare for the Tide.
How well Marks and his fellow defensive linemen perform will have a major impact on whether or not the Tigers will have a chance to upset an 11-0 team that features a strong offensive line.
“It is going to be a big challenge with the results they have been having running the ball and even protecting their quarterback when he passes the ball,” Marks says. “It is nothing different. It is the same offensive line they had last year, same scheme that everybody else runs on the offensive line. It is going be on us doing our job well, competing and winning.”
Marks had a streak of 35 consecutive starts snapped when he was held out of the Homecoming game this season.
Marks predicts Saturday’s showdown will be an emotionally game with the players trying to “kick some butt” as the Tigers go for a seventh straight win vs. the Tide and Alabama trying to keep hopes alive for a chance to play for the BCS title.
“There is nothing better than having the team you look forward to playing every year be the number one team in the nation and you go out and cause a lot of trouble, and always have a whole another year of exciting a lot of your fans and living well by winning this game,” Marks says.
“It would be real big,” he adds of what a victory would mean to the 5-6 Tigers. “It would be real big if we were 0-11 and they are 0-11 and we go and win this game. It would be extra big by them being the number one team and a lot of hype riding on it.”
The redshirt junior is considered a pro prospect, but says that his focus has been on this season and notes that he is strongly considering a return to the Auburn team for the 2009 season. Commenting on next year’s NFL Draft, he says, “I can’t go by without looking at it, but it is the same way it was for the beginning of the season. I put all of my trust into what Coach Tub (head coach Tommy Tuberville) and Coach Dunn (defensive line coach Don Dunn) told me. They will look into it and let me know if it is time to go so I put all of my trust into that.”
Marks adds, “I thought about it, but I always think I am not good enough to always move up a notch. I am not good enough to be that person picked in that spot. From the beginning of the season--before the season even started--Coach Tub told me, ‘It may be your time to go if your are a high pick and guaranteed a first-rounder. He will let let me know if it is time to go so other than that I haven’t been thinking about it.”
Marks says that his roommate, fellow junior Tray Blackmon, is planning on returning next season despite speculation the linebacker will try to go pro. Blackmon’s season ended early after six games due to surgery to repair his wrist. “He is doing well,” Marks says of Blackmon, who was hoping to get back in time to play this season, but hasn’t recovered enough for that to happen.
Kickoff for the Tigers vs. Tide matchup is set for shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST on Saturday from Tuscaloosa where the Tigers are 6-0 all-time although the Tide leads the series 38-33-1.
Marks says he is healthier than he has been since going into the Vandy contest in game six, which is good news for the Auburn defense.
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