Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Whitaker ready for Georgia

AUBURN - Auburn defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker was one of several Auburn players to meet with the media following Tuesday night's practice. Here's what he had to say about Saturday's game with Georgia and a few other things.

Was the off week big?

"It did help a lot as far as preparation for this week. We've got a lot of people who were nicked up and need to get healthy, needed to get that extra week. Even during the bye week, we got a good bit of work in for Georgia. Today was our first full day going at it. It went great. It's going to be a great challenge."

Big game for you, being from Georgia?

"This is it. This means a lot. Last year, we actually clinched the SEC West, if I'm not mistaken, after Georgia. It's so ironic that this year they're in the same kind of deal we were in last year. It's one more game. We're going to get their all. You're going to get Georgia's all playing them anyway. I've got a lot of respect for Coach Richt. It's like going against family. It's going to be pretty special. We have a job we've got to get done."

You know these guys pretty well?

"I know Abry Jones, who is from Northside. Cross-town rivalry. You have Garrison Smith, who was recruited with me. You've got Ray Drew, who I actually recruited. I don't know too much about Crowell, but I know him by knowing Gabe, though Gabe. You've got a mixture of a lot of guys that you know or have heard of coming up through the high-school system."

It was intense game last year. A lot of personal fouls. Will it be the same?

"That's the way it. It's Georgia and Auburn. When you've got a pretty good offensive line, who don't mind hitting you in the mouth and you don't mind returning the favors, there are going to be some shots. There's going to be a little talking here and there. We're going to respect the game. We're going to play until the whistle blows."

Ben Jones said he wants to exact some revenge?

"Ben Jones is a pretty good center. I remember it, too, from last year. I don't know what that means from Ben. We have a lot of respect for Ben. He's one of the elites in this league, in my opinion, and in the county. I wouldn't necessarily grade Ben into a category by himself or anything like that, but he's pretty good. He does a great job."

It's a bit of a role reversal. You want to wreck their season this time?

"We're just trying to get seven on the board and Georgia's in the way of that. That's where we're trying to go. We understand where they're trying to go. It's all about Auburn when it comes to Auburn. It's not about the opponent."

Can you talk about the improvement of (linebacker) Eltoro Freeman?

"He lifts up the defense. We actually call him Bull. He a high-energy guy, high motor, very vocal guy. When you see him out there doing his thing, running across and making unbelievable tackles and causing fumbles and all that … when you're getting that from your middle linebacker, it lifts everybody. It makes you want to elevate your game. We were joking the either day. He was like, 'Man, you're doing your thing!' I said, 'It feels good running free, don't it?' He said: 'Yeah, yeah, yeah.' I said: 'We've got to keep it up.' He feeds off of me, I feed off of him, the whole defense feeds off Eltoro. He's a pretty good guy."

How important is getting pressure on Aaron Murray?

"It's big. Murray is one of those quarterbacks where if you give him time and let him sit back, he'll pick you apart. We've got that. There's no way we're going to underestimate him or anything like that. Murray is a great quarterback. He runs that offense. The deal is that we have to get to Murray and hit him when we can -- the right way. Not late or anything like that. I'm pretty sure they've been circling their game for a minute because of how that game ended. I'm pretty sure they're ready and pumped up, but so are we."

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