Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Catching up with former Auburn OL Ben Nowland


I originally only wanted to ask you about your says at Auburn but after doing some research I'd like to ask you about the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. I was touched by your story. Mr. Cusack sounds like a wonderful man.

Is it true you gave him your SEC West Championship ring?

Yeah, I have a great relationship with my Brother and He sports that ring everyday.

How's it going in the Arena Football League? You are with the Georgia Force now aren't you?

Yes, I play for the Force, its awesome. I love the Arena game.

What are you most proud of from you time at Auburn?

Donating my hair. The experience was eye opening. On the field starting the streak on Bama and getting the Cliff Hare award.

Who was the toughest guy to block?

They were all easy to block. Just kidding, G "Big Money" Warren from Florida in 2000.

Where was the toughest place to play?

Syracuse, it was the first game we played once football resumed after 9-11.

What did you think of Coach Bowden resigning in the middle of the season?

It was weird. I was bummed because I had a different head coach every year in high school. I was like here we go again, I just wanted stability.

In 1999 we went to Athens and beat a pretty good Georgia team 38-21. What do you remember about that night? It seemed like we jumped on them early and they never could recover.

It was just a great experience all around. I remember taking pieces of the hedges after the game.

In 2000, your sophmore year we took Georgia to overtime at home and pulled out a win. Rudi Johnson had over 150 yards rushing. What sticks out from that one?

Did we go to O.T.? I just remember running a QB sneak behind me and Mike Pucillo to win the game. I don't remember a game he didn't rush for that many yards.

The next week we went to Tuscaloosa and beat Alabama 9-0. How sweet was that victory? Not only did we beat Alabama at their place but we also clinched a spot in the SEC title game.

Yeah, its always good to go in to T-town and get a W. That streak is still going too. Love it. The W made t worth it for dealing with that weather.

What do you remember about the SEC title game against Florida? Rex Grossman had a monster game. I don't think anybody could've beat them that night.

I just remember getting spanked, it wasn't a pretty game. Heath Evans played well though. They beat us twice that year.

Your junior year what do you remember thinking when Duvall hit the field goal to beat #2 Florida in a rematch at home?

That game was electric. Being from Florida that game was always a big deal to me. I was a captain that game, it was just so sweet. The rain held off to the very end. It was just one of those games that you just feel like you can't lose.

Later that year we got it done again in Athens. The defense stepped up and got that crucial stop on the 1st and goal from the 1 in the final seconds and Cadillac rushed for 160 yards. What do you remember about that game?

We ran the ball over 40 times, had over 70 offensive snaps. I was gassed. I couldn't believe they were even trying to run the ball on us. The D stepped up and got the job done. georgia had no time outs left and couldn't get another play off. It was a good win.

What do you remember about playing Carson Palmer and all those guys from USC in Los Angeles your senior year?

We should have won that game. The weather is really different out there compared to the south. I got to play with Carson in the Senior Bowl. He is a really good guy. That's one of the games that just kind of slip through your fingers. Carnell went out with cramps and we dropped a few key balls.

Later that year Florida blocked Damon Duvall's potentially game winning field goal that forced overtime and they went on to win the game. What did you think when you saw the blocked field goal?

I actually didn't see it until the replay. I looked away and the cop that was on the sideline was like you dont want to watch. I said no and then heard thump, thump and knew it wasn't good. That one hurt. Ronnie Brown came in and had a monster game in the second half, yet another game that slipped through are fingers just like the UGA game. 4th and 15 from the 17 and they throw a dang TD to win. We could have easily only lost one game that year. Arkansas was the only team that just flat out beat us.

What did it mean to you to beat Alabama your Senior Year?

It was huge. All our RB's were down and Tre was the lone back, we moved Cooper to FB. It was crazy. We just gamed planed the hell out them. Ran some gadget plays early to get on the board board and our D stooped everything. It was awesome. To be able to leave with a win makes leaving easier. Being apart of the streak is pretty cool too.

Thanks again, is there anything else you'd like to say to your Auburn fans out there?

All I have to say is "War Damn Eagle"! I couldn't have gone to a better place and wish I could come back and do it again. Auburn is a great place to play, I love the fans. It's been nice to actually be able to be a fan. Keep supporting those Tigers.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Interview with Nate Watson


Why did you decide to walk on at Auburn? I thought I read that you received some offers from other schools.

Well I would have had a scholarship to come here also but one of my teammates committed before did, leaving no scholarship. but I knew they wanted me so they said if I walked on for a year they would give me one after my first year, which proved out to be true. I also wanted to come here because I have played with the players that i was coming in with, Marco Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson, so I knew it would be easy for us to have good chemistry right off the bat, which made my decision a good one!

What are you most proud of from your time at Auburn?

I'm proud of the fact that I did choose to come here, because there was other offers on the table. but I believe if I had made any other decision nothing would have compared to my experience here.

Where was the toughest place to play?

I would have to say its between Kentucky and Florida. Florida is a really tough place to play because of their student section right there on the floor almost touching you and they are there an hour before the game taunting you. Kentucky because they have so many faithful fans and it is a basketball school, and it makes it hard to play there because of the atmosphere. But it is a lot of fun though.

Who was the toughest player to guard?

I would have to say Jamir Nelson from St. Joseph's. He is really quick and fast. And he can shoot almost as good as any point guard I have played against. Of course Carmello Anthony, both are at the next level now.

You played in 2006 Auburn legends game. How fun was that?

That had to be one of the best experiences I have been through. you know playing and hanging out with older players, was very fun and interesting to me. They had a lot of advice to give and alot of stories to tell. I could have sat there and listened to them all day. It is something that I hope continues on here at Auburn so players and fans can see the history of their school.

Going into your sophmore year we started out 11-2 before conference play. Then we reeled off 4 straight wins. What do you remember about the big win against Top 10 Alabama early in the season?

I remember going into that game pretty excited and ready to play because I was going to get to play for the first time in the biggest rival game in the states history and playing against a rival and friend Terrence Meade, who played at Scottsboro which was about the biggest rivalry up around where I'm from. And they made it a big deal also. I knew when we went into that game we were going to win, which is what happened, by 12 i believe.

Later that year we had a big game at home against LSU. You hit the game winning 3 pointer with a few seconds left in the game how big was that for you?

It was huge actually. That's probably one of my most memorable moments. I remember not hitting a single shot the whole game and when we were down two Coach Ellis took me out of the game and put someone else out there and then he called another timeout to put me back in and I thought I was being put in to be a decoy for Marquis to take his guy one on one. But when he did that everyone helped on him and he found me in the corner for the shot, and it seemed like it was so quiet when I shot it until it went in the it was so loud. That was a bigtime moment in my career!

How nervous were you playing in the NCAA tournament that year against St. Joseph's? I remember Marquis Daniels had a huge game. We had a big lead at halftime and they came back and forced overtime. They took a 4 point lead in OT but we ultimately came back and won the game to advance.

That was a crazy game. Marquis really showed why he was one of he best plaers in the country that game. If it wasn't for him we might have lost that game. We were nervous but there was a little trash talk before the game that put us in a comfort zone and ready to play, and made the game very exciting.

What do you remeber about beating Top 10 Wake Forest in the next round?

I remember going into that game with all the confidence in the world after winning the first game we felt like we need show people that we belonged in the tournament, and we used the media doubting us as motivation to get the win.

What about the one point loss to Syracuse, who eventually won the tournament. You actually hit a couple of big three pointers with under a minute to go.

Yeah, I think about that game all the time and how if we would have gotten past them we had the potential to win it all. I did hit a couple of threes at the end but I wish they would have came a little earlier, we just ran out of time. That is the way I like to think about it.

What did you think about playing against Carmelo Anthony?

Well I thought he was a very good player but by him being so young at the time I didn't think he would give us that big of a problem, which he didnt the first half but then got in a rhythm in the second. He is a great player and he has shown that by taking his team to a championship and being great in the NBA.

Skipping ahead to your senior year what did the win over Arkansas on Senior night mean to you?

It meant alot to me because we had been through so much by this time as far as the coaching change and players leaving, and us being undermanned every single game. I just took all my emotions and motivated myself to say I'm going to play my last game at Auburn and leave this gym with a win and we all played our hearts out and pulled it out. It was very emotional time for me!

The next week we upset Vandy in the opening round of the SEC tournament. What do you remember about your last win as a Tiger?

I remember we went into that game saying we have nothing to lose but everything to gain. We should have beaten them earlier when we played them. So we owed them one. I believe they were on the bubble for the tournament also. We said if we aren't going to the tournament, you arent either and we went out and played our game and had fun doing it. I think that killed their chance of making the tournament that year. So we went down with a fight and I could have not asked for anything more from our team that year because we were out manned every game but we had the biggest hearts. I think we'll be a team to remember not so much for wins be for our determination and how we stuck by each other in tough times.