Bulldogs Have More Bite In 2004, Tuberville Says

<!--Default For Auburn is to ignore-->Auburn, Ala.--<!--Default NodeId For Tommy Tuberville is 398268,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:398268]>Tommy Tuberville</A> said Tuesday that he anticipates a tough, physical game this Saturday when his Auburn football team opens conference play vs. the <!--Default NodeId For Mississippi State is 575,2004--><A HREF=http://mississippistate.TheInsiders.com>Mississippi State</A> Bulldogs.

"Mississippi State is a much-improved team with a different attitude," Auburn's head coach said. "Obviously, with a new head coach (Sylvester Croom) that came in and took control of that team very early--as you have to as a new head coach--(he) put in discipline, changed the attitude and has done a good job. Last week, watching them play against Tulane, they played with a lot of intensity and tremendous enthusiasm, something they haven't done in the last couple of years."

Croom made his head coaching debut Saturday with a 28-7 win against Tulane, as the Bulldogs held the Green Wave to 205 yards total offense. In last season's loss at Auburn under former coach Jackie Sherill, Mississippi State allowed 553 yards, with 405 coming on the ground. Auburn tailback Carnell Williams rushed for 161 yards on only 15 carries. He tied an SEC record with six rushing scores.

"Our players recognize that this is a different team that we're playing," Tuberville said. "Last year, we were successful against Misssissippi State early. Their coach had resigned the day before, and we caught them in a situation where they didn't have a lot of enthusiasm like we'll see this week."

Tuberville said that any SEC road game is tough, and the team will have to play a much better in Starkville than it played against La-Monroe.

"They have a very mobile quarterback." Tuberville said of Bulldog signal-caller Omarr Conner. "It seems like this is the year of the new mobile quarterback. Omarr Conner is a player that we recruited, and we know what he did in high school.

"We figured when this new coaching staff got there they'd take him from receiver and put him at quarterback because he is very athletic," Tuberville added. "He did just that last week. He was good in and out of the pocket. He made some good decisions and some bad decisions as a first time quarterback on this level, but that's to be expected. He really led his team in the second half and kept their confidence going and really played well."

Auburn has won the last three contests against Mississippi State, and aside from last year's blowout, the games have been close heading into the fourth quarter. Tuberville and his players expect another close game against the Bulldogs on Saturday.

"They're a really physical team, which Mississippi State always is," he said. "They're big, and they've got a good running game and so we're going to have to be prepared for that.

"Defensively, they're totally different from what they played last year. They run a lot of different fronts and a lot of different coverages and give you different looks so we've got our hands full going in this week offensively."

Kevin Sears makes a big hit in Auburn's 31-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe. It was the first collegiate start for the Auburn linebacker.

Tuberville said that there are no significant injuries at this point, and everybody should be ready to play Saturday. Linebacker Montavian Collier and cornerback Montae Pitts, who were held out of the opener against La-Monroe for violation of team rules, are back at practice and will play against Mississippi State. The game is set for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff on JP Sports.

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