Montgomery, Ala.—While it was an impressive night for Auburn quarterback commitment Jason Smith and his McGill-Toolen teammates, defeating Northridge of Tuscaloosa 27-0 in the Champions Challenge at Cramton Bowl, the Yellow Jackets are hoping it's just the start of big things to come this season for the team.
With that in mind Coach Bart Sessions planned a long day for his team in preparation for Saturday night's game. Leaving mobile at 8 a.m., the team took buses to Auburn to see and walk on the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium. That had a two-fold meaning for McGill-Toolen and something that didn't go unnoticed by Smith and the rest of the his team.
Hosting the Super Six Championships this season, Jordan-Hare Stadium is where McGill-Toolen hopes to finish its season this year. It's also the place that McGill-Toolen visited last season before a road playoff game at Central-Phenix City, a game the Yellow Jackets lost 40-0 to end the season. Smith said it was pretty special to take the visit once again and it showed everyone something important.
"It was great," Smith tells Inside The Auburn Tigers. "He (Sessions) knew that when we came up last year we lost after visiting Auburn. We did it again just to see where our heads were. We did it again and came out and took care of business. It's big too because that's where we want to be at the end of the year."
Smith runs for yardage Saturday night
For Smith it holds even another distinction as well. Committed to the Auburn Tigers, Jordan-Hare Stadium is going to be his home field for the next four or five years. Part of what is already a stellar 2013 class for Coach Gene Chizik's program, he said he's excited about what the future holds for the program.
"It feels great to have my decision out of the way so I can really focus on my senior season," Smith said. "We're just trying to put McGill-Toolen back on the map again.
"As for our class, it's amazing," he added. "Just getting to know these guys and seeing who I'm going to be playing with on the next level is great."
Despite an early fumble after pressure from Northridge up front, Smith had a solid night at quarterback as he completed 3-4 passes for 60 yards and a touchdown while also adding several nice runs. He said the defense picked up the offense Saturday night, but they finally put it together and got something going to take a 21-0 lead into halftime with the reserves playing the entire second half.
"Coming in we knew we were going against a big-time offense including Bo Scarborough," Smith said. "We came out playing hard. The intensity was great. We knew we came out a little sloppy, but we're going to clean that up as the season goes along. The defense showed up big-time."
It took the offense a little while to get going, but once it did McGill-Toolen rolled over the bigger Jaguars by wearing them down with speed. Putting in the Oregon-style offensive attack this season to showcase Smith's running skills and the overall speed of the team, the Yellow Jackets raced around and through a tired Northridge defense in the second quarter. Smith said it was noticeable and something that is exciting to think about the possibilities this season.
"We had a lot of mental mistakes, but that's going to happen," Smith said. "I could have taken better care of the ball. There are a lot of things we can tweak and fix, but I was hearing from the wide receivers and the offensive line about how the other guys were tired. If we just keep on doing what we're doing then we're going to run into a lot of teams like that."