Auburn's confidence should be sky high this weekend after a dominating performance against Mississippi State, one in which the Tigers controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage on the way to an easy 43-14 victory. Coach Tommy Tuberville said he was pleased with the effort and concentration his team showed against MSU in the first road game of the year, but he's hoping for even more out of his defense this week.
"It was good to start out with a win on the road in the conference," Tuberville said. "I thought our players played well. We wanted to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides and we did a pretty good job offensively. Defensively we've got some work to do with our front seven, but I thought overall it was a good game for our team. Our coaches did a good job of getting our players ready to play.
"We're not as dominating as a defense as we would like to be, but we're getting better," Tuberville added. "I thought we made some strides from the first to the second game, but they had basically a freshman quarterback that didn't know much of the offense. You would hope that we could give him more problems. He hung in there pretty good with his scrambling and gave us some bad plays."
Marcus McNeill graded out over 90 percent and had two pancake blocks in Auburn's victory.
After what Tuberville called his best game as a quarterback since he's been at Auburn in terms of running the offense, senior quarterback Jason Campbell was named the offensive player of the week for the team. Redshirt freshman nose tackle Josh Thompson was named the defensive player of the week while true freshman Tony Bell garnered the honors for the special teams. Tuberville said Campbell was in complete control of the game and that was good to see.
"We looked good running the offense," Tuberville said. "I was really proud of Jason Campbell. That's one of the best games he's played. He did throw a couple of balls behind receivers, but I'm just talking about running the offense, running the right play, running the ball to the right side and directing the offense down the field.
"It was one of his better performances. He looks like he's getting better each week. He's a little sore today because he got hit a few times on the blitz, but he held in there and threw two real good balls on the blitz for touchdowns. That comes from experience."
Rushing for nearly 300 yards, the offensive line was obviously a big factor in Saturday's win for the Tigers. The first unit was virtually flawless on the day, opening up big holes for seniors Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown to run through all game long. Each back rushed for over 100 yards on the day, the first time that has happened at Auburn since last season against the Bulldogs when Williams and Brandon Jacobs accomplished the feat.
"The running backs ran awfully well, but we had some holes to run through," Tuberville said. "Our offensive line blocked much, much better than they did last week. They were a lot more aggressive coming off the ball and blocking the second level. Our receivers are continuing to get better blocking down field. With our two running backs, that's our point of emphasis."
While the game turned out well, Tuberville expressed obvious disappointment in the play of the wide receivers. Several dropped balls halted drives on Saturday and the drops kept several big plays from happening for the offense. The kicking game also had a bad day with a missed field goal because of a high snap and another bad snap on an extra point. Tuberville said that part of the game would get special attention in practice this week.
Auburn came through the Mississippi State game relatively injury free. Linebacker Karibi Dede strained a muscle in his abdomen, but is expected to be back practicing by Tuesday. The same is true of sophomore defensive end Marquies Gunn, who sprained an ankle. Jay Ratliff also slightly turned an ankle and will be held out until Tuesday. Senior Bret Eddins bruised his upper right arm, but should be fine for LSU.
There is a possibility that Hurricane Ivan will make landfall in the Gulf Coast sometime this week, which could effect the Auburn area sometime between Wednesday and Friday. Tuberville said no plans have been made to this point and he's hopeful that everything goes well and the game can go off without any problems.
"I lived in Miami long enough to know those things change in a matter of minutes," Tuberville said. "We won't make any preparations until we have some kind of an idea, probably Tuesday, of what's going to happen practice-wise. Obviously that will have all of our control on what happens on the weekend. Hopefully it doesn't come our way and we get to practice and also have a great game."