That meant the offensive line got the job done and Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville had high praise for senior tackle Mark Pera, who along with running back Carnell Williams earned offensive player of the week honors for the Tigers. Pera had five pancake blocks, three cockroach blocks (which are earned when a defensive player is on his back and doesn't get up) and 10 rodeo blocks (riding an opponent to the ground during a play).
"I want to say something about Mark Pera, that's the best he's played since he's been here," Tuberville said on Sunday. "We normally don't have two players of the game at any position. He was 98 percent in everything that he did."
Defensively, Carlos Rogers was the player of the week for the Tigers after picking off a late Casey Clausen pass to seal Auburn's upset victory. Rogers finished with four tackles and two passes deflctions in addition to his interception. The day wasn't perfect for Rogers though as he broke bones in his thumb early in the game, but continued playing in discomfort the rest of the game. He had three small pins placed in his thumb on Sunday, but will practice and could play in Saturday's SEC game against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Spencer Johnson and Dontarrious Thomas close in on a Tennessee ball carrier Saturday night. Tuberville said the defense set the tone early for the game in allowing the offense to get back on the field.
The special teams player of the game was true freshman punter Kody Bliss. Facing off against talented punter Dustin Colquitt from Tennessee, Bliss had three punts for an average of 52 yards against the Vols. One of those was a fair catch inside the 20-yard line, his eighth such punt this season.
Tuberville also had good things to say about the play of junior quarterback Jason Campbell. Against the Vols Campbell was 11-18 for 157 yards with two touchdown passes. Those numbers could have easily been much better with the blown call to Devin Aromashodu for a touchdown in the second quarter and a couple of drops along the way as well. This season Campbell is completing 61.5 percent of his passes with five touchdowns and just two interceptions.
"He never gets flustered," Tuberville said of Campbell. "That's one thing I've always noticed about Jason. He listens more than he talks. Sometimes I would rather him talk more than listen because a quarterback needs to be a little more vocal. He's always focused in on what he's doing. He's taken some shots over the years, but I've never seen him rattled and never seen him lose his composure. He's starting to be a little more vocal with the offense."
One thing about Campbell that Tuberville says he has been impressed with is his ability to make the right decisions at the line of scrimmage. Many of Auburn's best running plays Saturday night against the Vols were checked into by Campbell. Other than a wrong decision on a third-and-two pass late Saturday night, Tuberville said Campbell did a great job against a good Tennessee defense.
"I'm just impressed with what he does when he gets to the line of scrimmage on play selection, reading the defense and getting the play called and getting it called to the right side when he has to," Tuberville noted.
Defensively, Auburn played well against the run, holding the Volunteer ground game to just four net yards. The defense helped set the tone early in the game with quick stops that allowed the Tiger offense to get back on the field and attack. Spurred on by leaders Dontarrious Thomas and Karlos Dansby, Tuberville said the team had prepared well for what they were going to face Saturday night and it paid off with a win.
"We've played a lot of emotional football games, but I thought our defense the first half, other than the last drive when they scored, was about as emotional and focused on a game as I have seen," Tuberville said. "I knew all week long, unless we just gave the ball game away, we were going to be right there and have a chance to win it. You could just tell and sense it in practice. D.T. and Karlos were at the top of their game all week."