"Defensively I don't see how we can play much better," Tuberville said. "We really played with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of emotion and it really showed on film. Our guys really flew around and made plays. We played a lot of players. It was a great game to watch defensively for us.
"It was a good game for all," Tuberville added. "We needed to get a win under our belts. We needed to score some points. We needed to play like that on the road. It was great to have that many people follow us. It was kind of like a home game for us. It made it a lot easier."
In a tough decision because of so many outstanding performances, Tuberville said the players of the week for the Tigers were Lamel Ages on special teams, Jeris McIntyre on offense and Reggie Torbor on defense. Ages did a very good job keeping the gunners from getting downfield on punt returns while McIntyre had two touchdowns and 117 yards receiving. Torbor had five tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. His performance was easily the best individual defensive day in recent memory.
"Jeris has been a leader for us this year and he's the type of guy that takes advantage of all opportunities," Tuberville said. "He's probably got the best set of hands by our wide receivers and he's got the first two or three quickest steps of the wide receivers. The coaches did a good job of manning him up on the linebackers and safeties instead of cornerbacks."
Jeris McIntyre streaks across the goal line with Auburn's first touchdown of the 2003 season.
Torbor's play and the play of his teammates up front defensively keyed the entire game Tuberville said. Because of early success on defense the Tigers were able to loosen up on offense and torch the Commodores in the second and third quarters to put the game away.
"The offense has to have help from the defense and yesterday they got it," Tuberville said. "I think that gave our offense more confidence that our defense was playing more aggressive. You could just tell on the sideline with the emotion flowing that once we got something going it was going to be a good day."
Although the day was a good one offensively with 483 yards of total offense, the most since gaining 492 in a loss to Arkansas in 2001, Tuberville said there were still plenty of things to correct and that will begin this week in practice. The main area of concern is the blocking, both on the line and by the receivers in the secondary.
"We played better in this game, obviously because of the way we moved the football, but we still had some breakdowns," Tuberville said. "Still at times we were too soft on our pass protections and we didn't hold our blocks downfield. That's the reason at times be are breaking the line of scrimmage, but Carnell (Carnell Williams), Ronnie (Ronnie Brown), Tre (Tre Smith) and Brandon (Brandon Jacobs) are having a hard time getting past that five or six-yard mark and breaking 15 or 20-yard gains like we did last year. That's one thing we're going to have to work on this week."
For the first time this season the Tigers were able to pound all four backs at an opponent and the result was a worn out Vanderbilt defense in the fourth quarter. Auburn averaged a respectable 4.1 yards per rush on 54 carries, but Tuberville said they still have to get stronger up front to be able to run the ball even when the defense knows it's coming. Still, the Tigers did a better job of mixing the run and pass early on Saturday and that made a big difference in the outcome of the drives.
"You should be able to knock them off the ball and get three or four yards," Tuberville said. "You just can't give up on the running game. We're not going to let people talk us out of it, but we still have to be a little bit more unpredictable on what we're going to do on first down. First down has killed us in the first three games up until about the second quarter yesterday. First downs started to be big for us and we started to get five or six yards. It makes play calling a lot easier when it's second and short instead of second and eight, nine or 10."
The Tigers came out of the Vanderbilt game in pretty good shape injury-wise with offensive tackle Marcus McNeill a little banged up with a sore back, which is something that has bothered him off and on for two years. Tuberville said the two weeks off should be very good for him. Linebacker Antarrious Williams missed Saturday's game with Vanderbilt because of a cracked bone in his arm.
Playing with a cast on his arm against Georgia Tech because of a broken hand, Williams apparently cracked the bone in his arm just above the cast line during the game. The injury wasn't discovered until last week during his check-up for his hand. Tuberville said he should return in a few weeks.
The Tigers will be off Sunday and Monday before returning to practice Tuesday through Thursday. It's possible they might have both Friday and Saturday off, but Tuberville said that decision will be made this week. Either way the Tigers will have a much better week after Saturday's victory over Vanderbilt. A victory that was a very important one for the head coach.
"We knew that we had to win this game just to get our confidence up," Tuberville said. "You have to win some road games in this league to have a chance to get to Atlanta. This was an opportunity we couldn't let get by."