Making A Big Game Bigger

This Auburn senior has extra incentive for Saturday's Alabama at Auburn game.

Auburn, Ala.--For seniors like Mike Pucillo, Saturday's game vs. Alabama has added significance.

Sure, Pucillo would like few things more than to clinch the SEC West title vs. his team's biggest rival. The chance to go undefeated at home and win a 13th straight game at Jordan-Hare Stadium is also significant to the big offensive guard.

Also important is that this is Pucillo's final home game and he wants to remember it fondly. And last, but not least, is what Pucillo considers unfinished business. He was a key member of the team that lost at home to Bama two seasons ago, something that still bothers the pro prospect.

"We had never lost at home to Alabama and they broke that streak in 1999," Pucillo says. "We want to get it back on track this year and start another streak. It is a big game for us. We have to do what we need to do.

"In the 1999 game we let one get away," Pucillo remembers. "We had the lead and we were playing good, but we let a win slip away and we don't want that to happen again."

Mike Pucillo (79) is considered a serious NFL prospect.

Auburn, which is 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the conference, can clinch the SEC West title with a victory over the Crimson Tide. Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m. from Jordan-Hare Stadium and the game will be televised nationally by CBS.

"We are really enthusiastic about how things are going," says Pucillo, whose Tigers played well last Saturday in Athens, taking a 24-17 victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. "We are trying to take one game at a time and put each win behind us and forget about the losses and try to win out."

Coach Tommy Tuberville says that the Georgia game might have been the best overall for the offensive line this season because that group helped the Tigers control the football with nearly a two-to-one margin in time of possession. Pucillo was less impressed and says, "We made too many mistakes in the first half and then we played good...we played solid. We ran the ball well and our time of possession was good. I think it was a good game, but not one of our best. I think we can definitely play better on the offensive line."

In the first half, offensive tackle Monreko Crittenden struggled to block quick defensive end Charles Grant. "Monreko seemed a little confused, sometimes," Pucillo says. "We just tried to communicate with him and tell him what was going on and he played better the second half. We had some mistakes, but we overcame them and won the game. I think our whole offense, not just the line, played better the second half."

Pucillo says that he was impressed by not surprised by the outstanding performance from freshman tailback Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. "Everybody knows he has the ability to do that and we have other backs who can have big days, too. Carnell really produced a lot of yards."

Tiger Ticket Extra: Offensive line coach Hugh Nall always gets excited about competing against Georgia, where he played on a national championship team featuring Herschel Walker. Pucillo says that it was obvious all week that the Georgia game is special to his position coach although Nall did not say that to his players. "He told us he was very, very happy and the whole coaching staff was really happy and the whole team was happy. You could tell it really meant a little more to him. He tried not to bring that in, but we all knew it."

Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories