"They have excellent wide receivers and probably one of the best, if not the best wide receiver in the country in Josh Reed," Tuberville declares. "They have the best running back in our league in LaBrandon Toefield, but the guy who really makes their football team click is Rohan Davey."
Tommy Tuberville surveys practice.
Auburn's third-year coach compared Davey's career to the one of his fifth-year senior quarterback from last season, Ben Leard. "He's worked his way up through the ranks," Tuberville adds. "He had to prove himself several times. He lost his position and was a good guy out of the bullpen, so to speak, for a couple of years. He really didn't make it as a starter, but he has really improved. He has made a believer out of me after watching film of how he has run this offense all year, how he has made big plays and how he has kept this team together through some tough times."
After starting the season with a shaky 2-2 record, Davey has led the Tigers to wins in five of their last six games and has put LSU in position to advance to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game for the first time in school history. That will happen only if they can beat Auburn on Saturday at Tiger Stadium.
Davey is the first LSU passer to reach the 3,000-yard mark in a season and has thrown 17 touchdown passes. "I don't think there is any doubt LSU is one of the best teams in our conference," Tuberville says. "They were predicted to be in that situation. They are a very explosive football team and a team that can hit you at anytime."
Rohan Davey has already set a record for LSU passing yards in a single season.
Big plays have been a huge part of the LSU offense this season and giving up big plays has been a huge reason Auburn has been unable to pull away for comfortable victories and come up short in the games the Tigers lost. Davey has connected with Reed on 18 catches of 30 yards or more and Auburn has given up six plays of 40 yards or more for touchdowns (five passing, one running).
It is going to be key for the Auburn defense to prevent the big plays from happening Saturday and Tuberville stressed that. "You can talk about offenses all you want, but defenses are what really have to get you to the point to win these championship games."
With Davey being one of the bigger quarterbacks in the league at six-foot-three, 239 pounds, Tuberville says it will be key for his young secondary to keep tight coverage on the receivers. "He scrambles around and is a guy who can take licks pretty good. He doesn't let pressure bother him. He'll stand up and take a hit and get the ball off to make big plays. He's not like a smaller guy back there who is running for his life. He's usually going to be more physical than the guy coming after him."
LSU Coach Nick Saban says he is pleased with Davey, his defense and his entire team following a wild 41-38 victory over Arkansas last Friday that set the stage for a showdown with Auburn to go to the league championship game.
Saban says, ""Defensively, for us to overcome five turnovers on our side of the 50, and to only have nine points scored on us as a result of those turnovers, is really pretty amazing. I think that's an outstanding job of responding to sudden change, which shows a little of the character that is necessary to be able to win big games, because the bigger the game, the more adversity there is to overcome."
"This is a big game because they have good players and they have the ability to make big plays, and that ability is going to be enhanced, so we're going to have to be able to respond the right way every time that something like that happens.
"I was really pleased with that part of the Arkansas game, and I was also really pleased with the fact that Ro (Rohan Davey), who had four turnovers in terms of interceptions, was able to come back and make big play after big play in critical situations in the game. That helped us to be successful in the game and that helped us to overcome some of the things that happened, and we didn't get in the tank, relative to not being as successful early in the game as we would have liked to have been, so that was a key for us in the game."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Auburn defensive coordinator John Lovett says Davey is a tough customer because he can zip the football accurately even when under pressure and even when throwing off balance. "Even when he doesn't look like he is throwing the ball hard, the ball gets to the receiver pretty quickly," Lovett notes.