Auburn seniors to step up

Auburn’s coaching staff is relying on the seniors to make sure this team bounces back from the South Florida loss and brings their A-game in the SEC opener against Mississippi State Saturday. While dreams of a national championship may have come to an end following the USF loss, Auburn has set its sights squarely on competing for the SEC West championship and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game.

Todd Van Emst
Groves has helped AU to a 21-3 SEC record the last three seasons.

“We’ve done really well the last couple of years in the conference, and we expect nothing less than that,” said senior safety Eric Brock. “We just want to get everybody on the same page and make them understand this is a different type of situation. “We’ve got SEC games coming up, and this is pretty much our season right here.” Senior quarterback Brandon Cox says there’s a sense of urgency on the offense to improve this week after subpar performances in each of the Tigers first two games. That makes the Mississippi State game especially important. “We need to prove something,” said Cox. “Yeah, it’s a big game against Mississippi State. But we just need to go out there and play our game. We’ve hurt ourselves the last game. We just need to go out there and not turn the ball over, put together some drives, put some points on the board and not rely on our defense to win the game for us. “We have to give our defense some confidence that they can rely on us to win games, too.” One of the tasks for the seniors this week has been working with the younger players to put the USF loss behind them and focus on the upcoming game. “It’s one of the many challenges we’ve faced,” said senior defensive end Quentin Groves. “The young guys have seen the joys of winning, coming from behind to win the game. Now, they have to experience the lows of losing. “It’s a learning experience that we all have to go through. I’m glad we went through it early rather than late.” The MSU game is always a special one for Groves. His final choices coming out of Greenville (Miss.) High School were Auburn, MSU and Georgia. “I kind of looked at the records and I was like, I want to go to a program that was winning,” said Groves. “I just wanted to win a championship, because I never won one in high school. I never won one anywhere I played. I had the best chance to get one at Auburn.” Groves helped Auburn to an SEC Championship and undefeated season in 2004 and he’s not about to throw in the towel on the 2007 season after one non-conference loss. “That’s what we stress to the young guys,” said Groves. “Just keep pressing forward. The SEC is a whole other world.” Auburn has won 14 straight SEC openers. This year’s senior class has already won 34 games and needs just seven more to tie the record for a 4-year period. “We’re creatures of habit,” said Brock. “We’re used to winning. We’re not going get down on one loss.”

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