While the plays and players are the same, there has been an obvious difference in the offense in the last two games. Much of that has to do with cutting out some of what the team does to prepare for each game, but offensive coordinator Hugh Nall said that tailoring the game plan to what the players do best has been the key in wins over Alabama and Wisconsin.
Junior quarterback Jason Campbell was able to make enough good plays as both a run and passer to win the MVP honors in Auburn's 28-14 victory on Wednesday. "I think that's a great tribute to that kid for hanging in there and hanging with us," Nall said. "I think it's a great tribute to the staff for putting something together that fits his personality a little bit more and his ability a little bit more. I don't think Jason is a dropback quarterback. I think he's a quarterback that is a good play-action guy that can get you in the right runs and then can run the ball when he has to.
"What I've wanted to do is limit the number of dropbacks with him and use more play-action. I've wanted to run the option all year and we did it. I thought that helped today. I'm just proud for him (Jason) because he's a good football player. It's our job to make sure he gets into a situation to perform."
Coach Hugh Nall stalks the sidelines during the Music City Bowl.
Perform is what Campbell did against the Badgers. While it wasn't his best statistical game in his career at Auburn, the junior was his usual efficient self and had several big runs to keep drives alive. Wide receiver Jeris McIntyre said that Campbell's performance was fun to be a part of and he's looking for big things next season out of the Mississippi native.
"People have always doubted Jason, but I think Jason is one of the better quarterbacks in the country," McIntyre said. "He showed that today and hopefully he can show that through his senior year. He showed his running ability, his throwing ability and his leadership skills. I'm hoping he can take that and have a head start into next year."
Campbell and McIntyre have been Auburn's biggest passing threat all year and Wednesday was no different as the senior receiver caught three passes for 74 yards. The biggest came late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 14 each. Facing a third and eight situation, Campbell dropped back and zinged a pass to McIntyre on the Wisconsin sideline. After sidestepping Wisconsin star Jim Leonhard, he raced down to the Badger 34-yard line. Three players later the Tigers scored a touchdown on the way to the victory and it might not have been possible without McIntyre's heroics in a clutch situation.
"Just knowing that was my last catch in an Auburn uniform makes it even more fantastic," McIntyre said. "It helped to get us in scoring position in the red zone and set up the winning score."
While the win might not mean much in the grand scheme of things, it was easily evident that it was an important game for a team hoping to salve the wounds of a tough season and hectic break between the regular season and Music City Bowl. McIntyre said the team really wanted to win this game for the coaching staff to show them the team appreciated the work and dedication they have shown them recently despite all the off-the-field problems.
"Coach Tuberville has been through a lot and that just shows the great coach that he is," McIntyre said. "Being able to go through all the adversity and get us prepared to play a good Wisconsin team just shows what a great coach he is and how great his coaching staff is.
"It feels great knowing we were the first class Coach Tuberville signed and us just sticking together," McIntyre added. "These people that have been around four or five years, it just feels tremendous that we can go out like this."