Focusing on a New Set of Tigers

When the tape shuts off and the lights come on. That's the time when all the frustrations of another so-close-yet-so-far-away game are set aside, not to be thought of until season's end. That's what the players and coaches say, at least. But how can a beat up squad so easily and so quickly put the 26-10 loss to LSU in the past?

Alabama quarterback Spencer Pennington hadn't yet seen the video of the Alabama-LSU game when he spoke with reporters Sunday afternoon, and therefore hadn't quite moved on from the play the turned all the momentum in LSU's favor.

"If the defensive back is up there close like he was on that play we call it a throw-behind (intentionally throwing behind the receiver so he can come back for the ball). That was the turning point in the game, I thought," Pennington said. "We came off with no pass interference and with the opportunity to go up 17-6. We thought it should have been pass interference, but it wasn't called and we have to put it behind us."

But the question remains, how can a team forced to practice (wisely) without pads all week long last week and probably again this week, in order to rest weary and injured bodies set aside a near miss? How can they forget being victim of a comeback sparked by an official's obviously errant non-call? How can it not weigh on young minds that having an offense that's been outscored 50-3 in the second half of four losses is no way to eliminate "close"?

"Auburn versus Alabama," Pennington answered with ease. "That's the biggest thing in SEC football in my opinion. We know as an offensive team we've got to play two halves of offensive football like we did in the first half last night."

He might be right. With an outstanding defensive effort and a special teams performance that looks like the best of times rather than the worst of times, 20 points from the offense might be enough to beat an undefeated, national-championship seeking Auburn squad. Not much more could be asked of Alabama's offense at this point.

"We don't think it's impossible," Pennington said. "We go in to games believing we're going to win. Just like in 2001, we go down to their place with everybody thinking we don't have a chance and we come out with a win."

Alabama has not beaten Auburn at home in two tries since the game was moved to Bryant-Denny Stadium, something Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville smartly reminded everyone of when he snidely remarked that Alabama had "finally scored" on his Tigers in the stadium.

"These seniors are going to be putting on the crimson jersey here for the last time," Pennington said. "Bryant-Denny stadium is special, this whole university is special and I'm honored to be playing with our seniors. We'd love nothing more than to beat these guys here and put an end to the tradition of never beating them here."

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