Along with placing a checkmark beside the first goal the 2004 Tigers set for themselves at the beginning of the season, the win also brought full circle a journey of sorts that this talented senior class began over four years ago.
"It's exciting," Ronnie Brown said about the Tigers' first trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game since 2000. "Me being a fifth year senior along with some of the other guys, we went our redshirt year and things didn't work out too well for us. And we knew coming into the season that making it to the SEC Championship game would be a goal for us, but we never thought we would achieve that goal in the ninth game of the season."
However, the Rebels made locking up the West in the ninth game a very tough task, and Antarrious Williams says he and his teammates knew that would be the case coming into the game. "We knew this game was going to be tough ever since last Monday when they moved it to 6:45," the junior linebacker notes. "We knew how good they played against Tennessee last week and we knew how tough it was going to be coming in because they have a really good team. We got off to a slow start, but just tried to come back and pick it up and we came out with a victory."
Carlos Rogers noted that he knew the Tigers' were coming in with a bulls'-eye on their backs. "We know being undefeated that somebody is going to come after us," Rogers said. "We were going to have a test down the road. Ole Miss was very, very prepared for us. I have got to say that.
"They got their crowd in it early," Rogers added. "They built off momentum, but we had something within us, a goal we wanted to achieve and we stayed focused on what we had to do."
Williams said that with that goal in mind, the underclassmen were working even harder than normal, even after nine straight weeks without a break, for their senior leaders. "We know this is their last time around so we are fighting out there and giving it our all," Williams said about gutting out the win. "We know they want to go out with a bang, as well as I want to go out with a bang. So, we are just trying to win one game at a time."
McClover, who had two sacks and a forced fumble in the game, said that even when it seemed like he was totally out of gas, he simply had to look to the seniors for inspiration. "You can be dead tired, but you look over there and see people depending on you it makes you feel good," he said. "It makes something come out of you that you didn't think you had."
Williams said that winning the West was a huge goal the seniors and the team set for themselves at the beginning of the season; it is not the only one. "It means a lot because it is a stepping stone and one of our goals that we have," he explained. "We have the SEC West and then on and on. We just want to win every game."