Talent and production are always important keys on a winning football team, but just as important is attitude. That's something that Gus Malzahn and his staff brought with them when they arrived on the Plains and it is continuing to transfer to the players with every game in the 2013 season.
Starting with a win over Mississippi State and continuing with the victory over Ole Miss, Auburn's confidence and belief in themselves took another stop forward on Saturday. The victory obviously shows how far this team has come, but left tackle Greg Robinson said it started even before the win over the Aggies.
"Coach talked to us in pregame and he told us we were the better team," Robinson said. "We really just had to believe and know it was going to be a fourth quarter game. We just had to see who wins at the end by tallying up the score."
There was never any question that the Tigers were going to need to score points and score points in bunches while matched up against a powerful Texas A&M offense and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Not many thought that Auburn's offense could keep pace with the Aggies, but the players didn't share that opinion and it showed.
"We knew that if we got into a shootout that we could win, sophomore receiver Sammie Coates said. "Get the ball to us last and we're going to do what we've got to do to get the job done."
That's part of the new mindset for the Tigers, but the biggest change has been up front on the line of scrimmage. With an offensive line that is beginning to impose its will on opponents, Auburn is one of the top running teams in the country following its 379-yard performance against Texas A&M.
A good chunk of that yardage came in the fourth quarter when the Tigers started to get into the rhythm and pace they've been searching for all season long. Grinding out the yards against an Aggie defense that had eight and nine men in the box, Auburn forced Texas A&M into submission in the fourth quarter.
"A few guys told us we needed to slow it down and that it was unfair," Robinson said. "I think they kind of faked an injury to give them some time. At the end of the day we knew we were better-conditioned and we had to let that affect the whole game."
With more and more attention surrounding the program following the 6-1 start, the Auburn bandwagon is beginning to fill up as the Tigers prepare to face Florida Atlantic on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Still a long way from being a polished team, Robinson said the Tigers haven't changed their goals for the season after the hot start and Malzahn makes sure of that.
"It does nothing but boost us," Robinson said of the win. "We started off with the new coaching staff and knew they had our best interests. Coach stressed that we've just got to get better every week. Next week we plan on getting better and taking on our opponent next week. I feel like this win gives us a great confidence boost."