Big Week For The Quarterback Of The Tigers

Quarterback Jason Campbell talks about the offense and why the Mississippi State game is an important one for him.

Auburn, Ala.--Quarterback Jason Campbell has taken his fair share of criticism since arriving on the Auburn campus, but there is no question the junior has put up solid numbers.

Currently second in Auburn history with a 62.2 completion percentage, eighth in career completions (260) and yards (3,311) and ninth in touchdown passes (20) he has been solid, but hasn't become the prolific passer many expected him to be when he signed out of Taylorsville, Miss., High School four years ago.

No matter what he does on the stat sheet Campbell has proven himself to be a winner for the Tigers and that was proven again on Saturday against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Just 10-18 for 118 yards and one interception, his numbers don't wow you, but he didn't make the big mistake against the Hogs that has killed the Tigers in recent years. That is something that he prides himself on and he says that the victory was a big one for this team heading into the heart of the SEC schedule.

"It meant a lot to us," Campbell says. "We're 3-0 in the SEC. We just have to keep working. We need to get better and better. We've moved to two games over .500 and we're on a winning streak right now. We just want to continue to work hard in practice and continue to prepare ourselves."

Campbell prepares to hand off to Carnell Williams during Saturday's victory over Arkansas.

This week the preparations are for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, a team close to Campbell's heart. As a high school player, he spent a lot of time in Starkville going to camps and watching games as his older brother Larry played linebacker for the Bulldogs. That makes this a special game as do a lot of familiar faces on the other side of the ball.

"I played with a lot of them in the all-star game," Campbell said. "We got an opportunity to room together for a week and meet each other and hang out. I think our whole all-star defense went to Mississippi State so I know most of them."

The Bulldogs enter Saturday's contest against the 19th-ranked Tigers with just two wins this season, but both have come in the last two weeks against Vanderbilt and Memphis. Campbell says his team can't afford to take this game lightly and have a letdown because the Tigers were once in the Bulldogs' shoes and know it takes just one good performance to get on the right track.

"They've won the last two games," Campbell says. "We feel like they have a lot of confidence and they are playing with a lot of emotion. When you get a win in your system it makes everything feel different. Look what happened to us. Once we got a win under our belts it changed everything around. We just have to continue to keep playing hard.

"I think the way you avoid it is the way you come out and practice this week," Campbell adds. "Not looking ahead and not worrying about who you've beat in the past, just focusing on the team your going to play Saturday. I think the only way not to have a letdown is to be prepared and go out and practice hard every day."

Practice begins each day by watching video, something Campbell does in his free time to improve his knowledge of the offense and opponents. Some of the most important film work of the week comes on Sundays when the team reviews the previous game and analyzes the mistakes they made. Campbell says watching film this past Sunday was very reminiscent of a game earlier this season, but much more enjoyable.

"It was the same thing as the Georgia Tech game," he says. "There were a couple of plays here or there that we could break and go the distance and it didn't happen. The main thing about this game is that we still won. We came out on top and that's the best thing. We went back and looked at the film and we see areas where we can improve."

Campbell and the Tigers will get their next opportunity to show what they have learned at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium vs. Mississippi State. With the Bulldogs struggling on pass defense, the Auburn quarterback will likely be called on to attack Coach Jackie Sherrill's secondary early and often with his strong right arm.

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