Big McIntyre Plays Awaken Sleeping Offense

Jeris McIntyre discusses his big plays and other Tigers comment on the improvement of the Auburn offense.

Nashville, Tenn.--Jeris McIntyre joked that he figured his team would get a penalty for excessive celebration when the Tigers finally got that first touchdown of the 2003 season.

The senior wide receiver's impressive catch and run early in the second quarter broke the ice for the Tigers. Five more touchdowns and a field goal followed in Auburn's 45-7 victory on Saturday in the SEC opener at Vanderbilt.

McIntyre said after he scored from 31 yards out, and broke two tackles, he didn't want to incur the wrath of his coaches by getting a 15-yard penalty, but there was certainly cause for celebration.

"It was really big for our offense when Jeris made that play," said junior tailback Ronnie Brown. "That got us going and we played better on offense after that."

McIntyre agreed with Brown and added, "We executed and did all of the little the things we needed to do to get the football into the end zone."

Earlier in the week McIntyre said as a senior he was going to do anything possible to help his team snap out of its offensive doldrums. Four catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns is just what the doctor ordered for an ailing AU offense.

"On the first touchdown, I was just trying to break the tackles," McIntyre said. "Then I broke free and all I could see was the end zone. On the second touchdown I was real close to the sideline. I saw the line and I was fortunate enough to keep my feet inbounds and I got some blocks and was able to get down the sideline all the way for a score."

McIntyre's second touchdown was a quick answer to Vandy's only score of the game and put the Tigers on top 24-7 with 11:06 left in the third quarter. Vanderbilt never seriously threatened the Tigers after that play.

Brandon Jacobs (27) carried the ball 14 times for 68 yards.

Auburn's four tailbacks combined for 203 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Brown, who rushed for 50 those yards and one TD, said the Tigers are relieved to break the TD drought, but are far from satisfied. "We still have a lot of things to work on--the penalties and a lot of small things, but we made a lot of improvement."

Head coach Tommy Tuberville said the game plan was to come out and establish the passing attack early to open up some running lanes for Brown and the other backs. The Tigers rushed for 219 yards, which is more than they averaged (197 yards per game) through their first two contests. They also were productive in the air, completing 12-19 passes for 219 yards and two scores.

"We were very unpredictable today," Tuberville said. "Our play calling was excellent. To play offense you have to have confidence. It as a sigh of relief to get it in the end zone."

Tuberville said keeping quarterback Campbell from getting abused like he did in games one and two was a key to the victory. Campbell said that was important as was breaking the ice for TD number one. "I think that just turned everything around," said Campbell of McIntyre's first score.

Campbell was wearing a big smile after the game as was his backup, redshirt freshman Josh Sullivan.""After that first pass it was like being in the scrimmages," Sullivan said. "I had never been in a college game before, but I settled down after I got out there." Sullivan hit five of seven passes in his debut for 44 yards.

Sullivan was able to show off his strong arm on two sideline routes to Courtney Taylor. "We run that a lot in practice and was in our game plan today," he said. "I think it was important that I got to play because I don't think they wanted to put me in the game in a tight situation when I had never taken a snap before in a college game."

Sullivan, Campbell, McIntyre, Brown and the rest of the offense will have two weeks to work on their game before returning to action vs. Western Kentucky. Scoring 45 points vs. Vandy will make the wait for game four go much more smoothly as the Tigers won a game they could not afford to lose.

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