Auburn, Ala.--Mike Berry is smiling this week and why not?
The Auburn junior offensive guard has helped his Tigers start the season 2-0 with an impressive offensive display. The Tigers are averaging 43.5 points per game and are fourth nationally in total offense with 572.5 yards per contest.
Berry and his teammates on the offensive line have played a major role in Auburn’s success this year. The Tigers are averaging 345.5 rushing yards per game and the Tiger quarterbacks have yet to be sacked this season.
“We feel good about it,” Berry says of the 2009 offense. “I think we have been successful because of the total package. We have been able to run the ball most of the time, but if the run isn’t there we have been able to pass the ball. In every facet of the offense we have gotten better.”
Last season Auburn quarterbacks were sacked 21 times and often had to hurry passes to avoid have that total grow even higher. “It feels real good not giving up any sacks,” Berry says. “You always want to protect your quarterback and give him faith that he can hold the ball as long as he wants to and be able to get it to the receivers.”
Berry and Tigers are coming off a 49-24 victory over Mississippi State as they prepare for Saturday night’s non-conference test against the 2-0 West Virginia Mountaineers. WVU outscored East Carolina 35-20 last Saturday. Kickoff is set for 6:45 p.m. CDT at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Tigers will bring two of the nation’s top 10 leading rushers into the contest with Ben Tate ranked seventh at 137 yards per game and Onterio McCalebb ninth at 131 rushing yards per contest. Those two Tigers are also one-two in this week’s SEC rushing statistics.
“Seeing those guys get their names in the newspaper gives us validation we are doing our job,”points out Berry, who was credited with 4 1/2 knockdown blocks vs. Mississippi State.
In coordinator Gus Malzahn’s offense, the guards must have the quickness to pull and make plays on the corner. Berry and fellow guard Byron Isom made key blocks near the sideline that helped Tate score on a 35-yard sweep play vs. Mississippi State.
Last year in Morgantown against West Virginia, the Tigers looked good in the first half, but struggled after intermission and fell 34-17.
“I remember we were very confident going into the game and we were very excited,” Berry says. “We were hitting on all cylinders early. We went into halftime feeling good, but we hit a rough stretch and didn’t get the job done. This year we plan on having more finish about us.”
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