October 12, 2008

Injuries impacting Auburn defense

Auburn's defense had played at a championship level through the first six weeks of the season. But the wheels came off in week seven after the Tigers surrendered 416 yards to Arkansas.

Injuries have taken a toll.

Auburn was without starting corner Jerraud Powers, middle linebacker Tray Blackmon and backup defensive end Antoine Carter.

A host of players including defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks, defensive ends Antonio Coleman and Michael Goggans, linebacker Craig Stevens and safety Zac Etheridge are playing through injuries.

The off-week came a week late for the beleaguered unit but Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville expects his defense to bounce back when they return to action Oct. 23 at West Virginia.

"Defensively, once we get everybody back healthy, we'll have a chance to get back and have that edge we had during the first few games," Tuberville said.

"We'll get stronger as we go because we'll have time off between games. It sets up pretty good to have good practice time."

Arkansas did a good job exploiting Auburn's injuries. With Powers out, Auburn is forced to bring safety Mike Slade into the game and move Etheridge from safety to corner. Normally, AU would bring in an extra corner in nickel situations.

"All those crossing routes hurt us because we weren't able to double a guy and go nickel as much as we like. We were in a bind," Tuberville said. "…It was guy trying to catch crossing routes that probably normally wouldn't have been there had we had Jerraud out there as our nickel guy."

Tuberville said Powers was back jogging on his inured hamstring and had a "50/50" chance of returning for the WVU game.

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!