"You need something like that," Tuberville said. "We've been living on borrowed time knowing that we're hitting on all cylinders on offense in most games back to the LSU game. We probably needed a game like that where everybody had to play to their speed and play for at least three quarters. We played hard for three quarters and the game was still in doubt."
Much of the reason for the game being in doubt was a lackluster offensive performance in the first half by Auburn. On the second offensive play for the Tigers, quarterback Jason Campbell fumbled a snap from center Steven Ross, who started his second game at center with starter Jeremy Ingle out with an ankle injury. Later Auburn was stopped on fourth down inside the Ole Miss five yard line. Tuberville noted that Ross played well, but a difference in quickness led to a turnover and some negative plays early on for the Tigers.
"Steven Ross really played well," Tuberville said. "The difference in Steven is that he's quicker than Jeremy Ingle in a lot of things that he does and our timing was a little off. Obviously the first one was.
"After that everything kind of settled down. We went back to a snap count. It wasn't quite as difficult as we expected. That was probably as much our fault as it was Steven's. He really played well. We're in a situation now that we've got two guys that have their strengths. Is Jeremy going to be back? I think he will be, but he's going to have to practice by next Sunday because you can't just show up for a game. He's got one more week to be ready to play."
Just like they've done all season, Auburn's offense answered the bell in the second half with 28 points to put the game away. Much of the damage was done thanks to an all-around effort by the offense, defense and special teams. Tailback Carnell Williams had a super day with 237 all-purpose yards while fellow back Ronnie Brown added 100 yards rushing. Tuberville said a successful offense starts up front and that's what happened when Ross and Campbell got in sync Saturday night.
"The thing I like about our team is not that we score points, but we've been consistently scoring points," Tuberville said. "Our defense's back has not been against the wall. It's probably good that we did that last night to say "hey, we are human". No matter who you're playing, if you don't go out and execute, and we didn't execute because our timing was off on passes.
"Jason got ahead of himself and fumbled on the second play of the game. Steven Ross was too quick on a block on the goal line. We were just a little bit out of sync, but as the game went on we started getting stronger and stronger. You can just look at how Steven was playing and the offense started playing that much better and better."
Another key for the running game was the play of fullback Jake Slaughter in the two-back sets. A bruising blocker, Slaughter had perhaps this best career game as a Tiger in one of the most important games of the season. Tuberville said that Slaughter is really coming on strong and will be an important part of the offense down the stretch.
"Jake Slaughter played terrific," Tuberville said. "That's the best game he's played. He gets stronger each week. Jake has accepted his role and we were in two-back 42 plays. That's a lot. That goes to show you the confidence Eddie Gran has in him. I think Carnell and Ronnie were in 37 plays each and both ran the ball 16 times each. That's the perfect scenario for those guys. Jake has really, really improve and made this offense better."
Something that you might hear some talk of this week by the Auburn players is the BCS and how the Tigers stand heading into the off week. Tuberville says that once this week is over the talk of BCS won't be heard around the football complex with Georgia and Alabama on the horizon because those games mean too much to the program to worry about anything else.
"We're going to talk about that a little bit this week," Tuberville said. "I don't think we'll have that problem with Georgia coming in. They'll probably be somewhere close to the Top five by the time they get here next week. Of course in the last game it doesn't make any difference where you're ranked or Alabama is ranked going into that game, it's just a battle anyway. We'll approach these games one at a time and just tell our guys there's no reason to worry about it. We drop one of these games coming up and it doesn't make a lot of difference anyway."
After playing nine straight weeks, Auburn now gets a much deserved week off and will practice just Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before taking both Friday and Saturday off. Tuberville said the team needs to get away from football for a few days and come back focused on closing out the regular season in style.
"It's a much mental as it is physical," Tuberville said. "We could tell last week in practice, our guys push hard, but we could tell our guys were sluggish. We were making mistakes in practice, both mentally and physically, that we had not made and it's some of our base stuff that we had been running.
"That's just fatigue. They were trying not to show that we were a little bit tired. They pushed through it. We had spirited practices. Friday night some of the players got up and talked at our last team meeting about the importance of the game and the importance of playing hard for 60 minutes. It's just typical of this team. We definitely need a little bit of rest."