After a less than impressive 2003 effort, Auburn's wideouts have stepped up and become key players in their team's 7-0 start and rankings of third and fourth in the country in the major polls.
Junior Anthony Mix, who has 15 catches for 191 yards and two touchdowns, says he and his fellow wideouts went into the season feeling like they had something to prove.
Mix makes a play at Mississippi State.
"We are trying to play hard and compete," Mix says. "We want to score every time we catch it. We all want to be big-play receivers. We are trying to get a name for ourselves. We are trying to earn respect. We feel like we don't get as much respect as we need and we are working on that. We are getting there."
On Saturday the wideouts will look to add to those totals as the Tigers play their next to last home game of the season vs. the Kentucky Wildcats. UK will bring a team that is just 1-5 overall and 0-3 in SEC games.
"We watched film of Kentucky," Mix says. "They are a team that is struggling right now, but they have athletes like everybody else. They will be ready to play. It is an SEC game. We can't down them just because they are struggling right now. We have to be ready to play them."
Mix says that he and is fellow wide receivers are thrilled with how Auburn's senior quarterback, Jason Campbell, is playing this season. Nobody in the SEC has been more productive through seven games.
"It is really fun playing with Jason," Mix says. "He is really confident and making great throws. He is sitting back and will take a lick to make a throw, which is something that great quarterbacks do. He is becoming a great quarterback. Some throws that he wouldn't make in the past he is throwing now. He can make you look good as a receiver."
Mix is averaging 12.7 yards per catch this year and the Tiger receivers are averaging 15.1.
The Auburn offense, which leads the SEC with an average of 447.6 yards per game, has come out strong in most games this season. The Tigers have scored on the first series in six games and might have been seven of seven if there wasn't a first series turnover vs. The Citadel. The Tigers have not punted in the first half since the LSU game.
"We have worked hard every week in practice to come out ready to play on offense," Mix says. "We don't want to punt at all. We want to end drives with touchdowns or field goals--mainly touchdowns. We have been converting a lot of our third downs (51.9 percent) this year and that makes a difference."
The Tigers are ranked fourth in this season's first Bowl Championship Series listing. Mix says that is good, but says there is still a lot of football to be played. "We don't want to get too excited, too early," he says. "Yes, it is exciting to get ranked fourth in the BCS standings, but we can't look at that right now. The season has a long way to go. We could lose and be out of it."
The junior says his team has worked hard to reach week seven as the only undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference. "The coaches always tell us whatever you put into it, you get out of it," he says. "We have been working hard since day one and it is showing. We worked hard all spring and all summer and it is showing on the field."