With a 7-0 record and a number four ranking in the first week's BCS standings, the Tigers are very close to the top of the college football world. That's a long way from last season's up and down season that began with Auburn in the Top 10 and ended with five losses despite victories over Alabama and Wisconsin to close the season.
For sophomore receiver Courtney Taylor, this season has been all about good times. In his first fall playing for the Tigers in 2003 he was Auburn's second-leading receiver, but Auburn never put it together offensively until late in the season. There was talk of a national title before the opener. That changed to what went wrong after early season losses to USC and Georgia Tech. Taylor says that even though the situation has changed, it's still just about playing football.
"I just feel like we've been through the ringer," Taylor says. "Last year we kind of started on top and lost the first two games. We still ended up with a pretty good season, but it was disappointing to us. I feel like experience-wise, if you're 7-0 or 0-7 you're going to play hard, it doesn't matter. You're going to play hard each and every week, regardless."
Taylor catches a pass in traffic against the Arkansas Razorbacks last week.
While things don't change a great deal on the field, the enthusiasm and energy around the Auburn football complex continues to rise as the Tigers keep winning. Taylor says that even though the team tries to block out the hoopla surrounding a 7-0 start, you can't help but feel the difference around the campus and Auburn fans.
"Of course, we're winning," Taylor says. "Last season was a real exciting time around here and now a lot of that excitement is coming back. At the same time we've just got to stay focused. It was scary last season because we hadn't played a game. Now since we're playing and we're kind of in a groove and have a lot at stake, it's just more exciting. We're feeling excited that we've got a chance to keep winning."
The excitement has carried over to collectors as well as Auburn fans as for the past few weeks there have been people lined up outside the complex to get autographs from players on all kinds of items. Taylor says that it's becoming tough to get in the building each day without someone asking for a signature on something.
"It's crazy," Taylor says. "When we get out of practice there was probably seven or eight guys out there with 50 items. They had like 10 balls and eight helmets. Then I was coming to work out today and there was a guy around back. It's a little crazy.
"Most of the time I sign them," he adds. "I know they go through a lot of trouble just to get up here and they stand out there a long time. Most of them are out there from now (noon) until the end of practice."
Auburn should continue its winning ways this weekend when the Tigers face the Kentucky Wildcats. With just one win this season, Coach Rich Brooks' team has struggled for much of the season on both sides of the ball. While it shouldn't be a difficult game for the Tigers, Taylor says you can never assume a victory in a SEC game.
"The only thing I probably don't see is depth-wise," Taylor says. "They've got pretty good players at positions, but their depth is shaky. It's the SEC though, they're going to come in here fighting. We've got to get prepared for them and get ready to take it to them.
"I feel like in order to be a good team you've got to go out and take it to any team on Saturday regardless of their record or who you're playing," he adds. "It all comes down to just proving that you're the dominant team in the conference. I feel like we've got to prove that we're dominant. I don't want to play the games close or anything--just go out there and play football."
Leading the SEC in total offense, Auburn may again have a chance to score a lot of points this weekend against one of the weaker defenses in the league. Without having to attempt a first half punt since the LSU contest four games ago, the Tigers have been scoring at an impressive pace in the first 30 minutes of games. Taylor says that if Auburn gets off to another good start this weekend, or anytime down the road, he is hoping for a more wide open attack in the second half.
"I prefer to keep scoring," Taylor said. "Most of the times what we do is come out and run right and run left and pass here or there. Our coaches always teach us to be greedy and I'm greedy. I want to keep scoring."