Tuberville Sees A Lot To Like With His Tigers

Comments from head coach Tommy Tuberville are featured as the Tigers went back to work in preparations for their homecoming game.

Auburn, Ala--Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville gave Player of the Week Honors for the Tennessee game to his entire football team following the Tigers' 34-10 whipping of the Volunteers Saturday night in Knoxville.

"We normally have a player of the game, but we made every player on the team Player of the Game--all 120," Tuberville said at his Sunday teleconference. "It was a total team victory starting with our scout teams last week. They gave us a great look of what Tennessee does on offense and defense."

Before the game, there was a lot of hype surrounding Tennessee's two true freshmen quarterbacks, Erik Ainge and Brent Schaeffer. Ainge entered the game fourth in the nation in passing efficiency, but was intercepted by Auburn senior strong safety Junior Rosegreen three times and junior linebacker Travis Williams once.

Rosegreen also picked off a pass from Schaeffer, giving him four for the game and earning him Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors.

"For him to have four interceptions, that's amazing for anybody," Tuberville said. "You've got to be in the right spot, and Junior is always around the football. He does a great job of reading quarterbacks and being able to break on the ball. A lot of those were pressured interceptions where the ball was just thrown up for grabs. I'm proud for Junior. He made National Player of the Week. He's been fun to be around for the last five years. He'll graduate this year and move on to the next level."

Tuberville also noted that fellow safety, sophomore Will Herring, deserves praise. "He really played a smart game last night and tackled well on cut-backs earlier in the game when our defensive ends were closing too fast," Tuberville said. "He's become a really good tackler. He's just a heads-up ballplayer. His decisions are night and day better than they were this time last year. He's got a lot of room for improvement, but he's already made a lot from last year to this year."

Tuberville and Chette Williams, the team's counselor, are enjoying the 5-0 start for the Tigers.

Coming into the game, both teams were ranked in the Top 10 in both major polls, and Tennessee was a slight favorite playing in Knoxville. By halftime, Auburn had already silenced the UT portion of the crowd of 107,828 with a 31-3 lead.

"Obviously our football team is excited about how we pulled it out last night," Tuberville said. "It was a good victory for us on the road. It was kind of like two different games. We played real well the first half and we kind of let the air out the second half, and that's my fault. I felt like we had enough points to win and just to get out of there with a victory. We didn't need any more points."

The stands of Neyland Stadium were half empty with Auburn carrying a 28-point lead into the final quarter. Many of the Volunteer fans had left, but the Auburn faithful stayed to celebrate until well after the game was finished.

"I've had several e-mails from Tennessee people that said that it was the loudest they've heard a visiting crowd in Neyland Stadium," Tuberville said. "I don't know how many we had. I looked several places and we had them in the top of this side, the top here and here. They had them all spread out and they were still loud. It makes you feel good that people are following us and staying with us. This group has been behind us through thick and thin and we're proud to give them something to hang their hat on too after all these tough times."

Through five games this season, the Auburn defense has allowed an average of 7.2 points per contest, with only 12 points allowed in the first three quarters of ball games. Earlier in the year Auburn held defending BCS Champion LSU to nine points.

"What is amazing about this game and the LSU game is that we played mostly base defense," Tuberville noted. "We might have blitzed a handful of times. We just lined up against Tennessee and got after them.

"We didn't do anything special," he added. "We knew they were going to come to the line of scrimmage and if you show a blitz, they're going to check off anyway and throw a quick screen. We wanted their quarterbacks to execute something more difficult than a screen so we just played base defenses and he had to read our coverages from there. I thought (defensive coordinator) Gene (Chizik) and his guys did a great job of that. I thought that our corners did a good job of disguising coverages too."

Arguably the biggest factor in the outcome of Saturday's game was the difference in quarterback play between the two teams. Auburn's Jason Campbell completed 16 of 23 passes for 252 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Tennessee's duo completed 18 of 40 passes with one touchdown and five interceptions. Campbell also managed the game extremely well, grading out in the high 90s by the Auburn coaches.

"(At quarterback) it takes two to three years of playing, learning, making mistakes and learning from your mistakes," Tuberville said. "Players learn and play around you, and then the supporting cast has to be there. Jason has been one of those that has really accepted coaching. He's learned every week from his successes and failures. He never gets frustrated. He just keeps working hard. He's a hard working and dedicated man that deserves everything he gets.

"The two true freshmen quarterbacks are good players and they'll continue to get better," Tuberville added. "But we knew that if we could get any kind of pressure on them at all they'd throw it up for grabs."

Tuberville noted that winning big on the road in the SEC is always a great feeling. "There's nothing like playing well on the road, especially against ranked teams and teams that you're underdogs to, and also rival games," he said. "This used to be a big rival game for Auburn and Tennessee and obviously it's a tough atmosphere, but to see our players handle the surroundings, the pre-game, all the noise in the stadium, and just be able to control the line of scrimmage for four quarters is just fun to watch.

"That's what football is all about, and to see your players have fun after everything that they go through for 365 days, for something like this to work it just makes you feel good about this sport," he added.

Despite Auburn's strong performance, not everybody was impressed with the Tigers. Tennessee senior linebacker Kevin Burnett, the team captain, was quoted as saying that "the best team out there Saturday was Tennessee."

"You've got to go by what the score is," Tuberville said. "We normally view winning and losing as who's got the most points on the scoreboard at the end of the game. It's one of those deals where I thought our team played pretty good. It's about as good as we can play in the first half, on the road especially. It was a hard fought game and I thought Tennessee gave a great effort.

"I don't know what number Kevin Burnett is, but I'm sure he made some plays," he added with a grin.

Tuberville also noted that the Tigers came out of the game without any significant injuries and that his team is looking forward to preparations against the Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs, 3-2 after an upset victory over Fresno State, come to Jordan-Hare Stadium for Auburn's Homecoming on Saturday at 2:30 p.m.

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