AUBURN, Ala. — As a senior, Auburn left guard Alex Kozan is the veteran presence in the Tigers locker room.
This will be Kozan’s fifth football season at Auburn — he spent one season redshirting and one season injured — so he has seen the highs and lows of Auburn football.
Kozan addressed reporters earlier this week prior to the Texas A&M game (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), a matchup that has been an odd back-and-forth rivalry since the Aggies arrived in the SEC West. Here’s what Kozan had to say.
Q: The winner of the Auburn-Texas A&M game has been the road team every year since the Aggies joined the conference in 2012. That’s pretty strange. Is there conversation about that in the locker room?
A: “Yeah, it is a little weird. Normally the home team (has the) advantage, but 2012 obviously that wasn’t going to happen (Auburn was winless in SEC play that season). 2013 we kind of shocked them a little bit, 2014 they shocked us and then 2015 we got them again, so hopefully we can break that little weird streak. The road team winning? I don’t think anybody really pays attention to that, to be dead honest. No, most of the guys in the locker room haven’t been there to really notice that kind of stuff.”
Q: What did you think when you saw quarterback Sean White out “lead blocking” on Kerryon Johnson’s touchdown run?
A: “I love Sean’s competitiveness, I love how he tries to sell out every play. Sometimes he could avoid a couple of hits, but I mean Sean, the thing I love about him is he’s a gamer and he’s going to do everything in his power to help us win the game. You can’t complain about that.”
Q: How critical was it that Sean had a big game like that, for confidence?
A: “I think it’s important for any player, especially confidence-boosting. Not that Sean isn’t a confident guy, he is, but once you can kind of display it on the field and put it all together, I think that helps a player for sure.”
Q: It’ll be a challenging task for the Auburn offensive line this week, with Myles Garrett & Co. coming to town. What are your thoughts on Garrett?
A: “Pretty much it looks like he was created in a video game to rush the passer. He’s long, athletic, he can bend. Great pass-rushing talent and he’s improved as a run defender, so very talented player and it’s going to take our best effort against him.”
Q: What about the rest of the Aggies defensive front?
A: “Very athletic, just like every defensive line in the SEC, but obviously they have elite talent in their defensive ends, and defensive tackles are pretty good, too. So it’s going to be a major challenge, but we’ll be ready and ready to take it on.”
Q: What was your take on the improvements from Week 1 to Week 2 on the offensive line?
A: “I think we had more cohesion, everything was communicated better, definitely. The results speak for themselves. Obviously Arkansas State wasn’t as good as Clemson was, but I was proud of the way we responded from Week 1 to Week 2. Hopefully we can continue growing as a unit and developing as an offense.”
Q: As a member of the 2013 team (that routed Arkansas State in Week 2 after edging Washington State the week before), did Saturday vs. Arkansas State feel like that again?
A: “We do some things different, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s 2013 just because every team is different, so I don’t really try to compare the two. I’m trying to make 2016 the best that I can.”