Tuberville Pleased With Tiger Performance

Coach Tommy Tuberville discusses Auburn's quarterback play, the defense and playing Mississippi State.

Auburn, Ala.–-The plan for facing Louisiana-Monroe was evident from early in the preseason for the Auburn Tigers. Playing as many players as possible and as early as possible was going to be a big priority for Coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff.

In Saturday's 31-0 victory over the Indians, the Tigers accomplished just that goal. Playing over 70 players, including quarterback Brandon Cox early, Auburn gave some young players a chance to gain some much needed experience down the road. While it was good for some, it didn't help everyone as Tuberville said that starting quarterback Jason Campbell never got in a good rhythm on the day, but that shouldn't be a problem the rest of the season.

"We'll go with Jason," Tuberville said. "We would like to get Brandon in the game, but we've got to get continuity. In certain situations we might try to get him in the game. Jason yesterday struggled at times because of going in and out of the game, not being loose and not having any rhythm going. I'm not into working quarterbacks in and out. If we do see a spot where we think Brandon might can help us, we'll put him in. But he's still got a lot to learn about the offense and about running the offense. It will be just a series by series decision.

"Both graded out very well," Tuberville added. "They made the right decisions most of the time. Both made a couple of wrong checks at the line of scrimmage, but overall it was a good performance out of both of these young guys. They really ran the offense well."

Campbell throws a 32-yard touchdown to receiver Devin Aromashodu in Saturday's win.

While the quarterbacks were solid, the same can't be said for the offensive line as a whole. With players shuffling in and out for much of the day the unit never got into a groove where they were pushing the smaller Indians off the ball. Tuberville said overall they played okay, but nothing is guaranteed and the starters have to keep fighting if they want to remain on the first unit.

"Most of them played about the same," Tuberville said. "There is going to be some competition there throughout the season with guys. For instance if they don't perform very well there's a chance in practice they could lose their position. There won't be any changes coming from this game, but I would forsee down the line some guys that have the opportunity to maybe move up."

The unit did suffer one injury as sophomore offensive guard Ben Grubbs sprained an ankle during Saturday's game and is questionable for this week's game against Mississippi State. Tuberville said the coaches are hopeful Grubbs can return to practice by Tuesday or Wednesday. Sophomore Jonathan Palmer will run with the first team in Grubbs' absence.

"He had some swelling, but we'll have to wait until tomorrow (Monday) to see if he will practice," Tuberville said. "He will probably play, but we'll just have to wait and see."

The players of the week for the Tigers were Ronnie Brown on offense, Kevein Sears on defense and Kody Bliss on special teams. Brown ran the ball seven times for 55 yards and one touchdown and caught two passes for seven yards. Sears finished with three tackles and played a physical football game. Bliss averaged 46 yards on four punts against the Indians.

Playing without starting cornerback Montae Pitts and reserve linebacker Montavian Collier, who were both suspended for the opening game because of a violation of team rules, the defense had a solid day despite playing waves of players. Tuberville said that you could tell the difference when the starters weren't on the field, but the game was a good learning experience for his team.

"Defensively we made a lot of mistakes," Tuberville said. "We lined up wrong several times, mostly young players. But, they're young players that are going to have to play and make a difference for our team."

Tuberville did single out several defensive players that had good days in addition to Sears. Both Travis Williams and Tommy Jackson stood out up front and Junior Rosegreen along with Carlos Rogers had big days in the secondary. Tuberville also said that redshirt freshman Patrick Lee played well along with true freshmen Tony Bell, Steve Gandy and Pat Sims.

"One young guy that stood out was Patrick Lee," Tuberville said. "He played as well as he's played since he started here, being a redshirt freshman. He hasn't played in a game, but has played in some scrimmages. He's really starting to come around."

Auburn now turns its attention to the SEC opener against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. A terrible team last season, the Bulldogs looked like a different unit in an easy 28-7 victory over Tulane Saturday night and Tuberville said the Tigers better be ready for a tough game in Starkville this Saturday.

"We've worked a lot on them already, looking at pro film where he's (Sylvester Croom) and from looking at The Citadel film for the defense," Tuberville said. "We'll have to compare notes to see how much they look the same. They looked like a much different team last night. It looked like they played harder than they played last year. We'll get their best shot. It will be one of those games on the road. There's no telling what's going to happen."

Auburn will take Sunday off and practice on Monday. Because of the rain expected from Hurricane Frances, the Tigers may practice in the morning. Rain is expected throughout the day on Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday. Kickoff for Saturday is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen live on JP Sports.


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