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UK's Crawford earns start for Auburn

  • By Chris Fisher,

    Following two consecutive losses in which the UK defense gave up an average of 45 points per contest and with eighth-ranked Auburn's high-powered offense on deck Saturday, UK coach Joker Phillips has instituted some personnel changes to help spark his club.

    Phillips moved defensive tackle Mark Crawford into the starting rotation along the defensive line. Crawford, who was suspended for the Western Kentucky game for a violation of team rules earlier this season, has bounced back and provided some much needed juice for a punchless UK defense, recording four tackles for loss to go with two sacks through four games.

    "He's always been great," Phillips said Monday. "It's harder to lead after you get suspended but his suspension has worn off and every week you've seen him become more of a leader. He plays with a motor and that's what we need. On the sideline he's upbeat trying to get everyone into the game. We feel like Mark deserves a chance to start the game."

    Crawford says he feels like he let his team down with the suspension and is ready to make up for it now that he's cracked the starting lineup.

    "It was very hard sitting out that game and watching my team go into battle without me," Crawford said. "I cost myself and my team. I feel like I owe them everything I can give them."

    Crawford will replace walk-on Luke McDermott at the starting tackle spot, but McDermott, who leads the team in sacks (3) and is second with 4.5 tackles for loss, will continue to see action as part of the rotation.

    Defeat doesn't finish a man - quit does. A man is not finished when he's defeated. He's finished when he quits. - Richard Nixon