"The kids played really well I thought," Borges said. "Particularly up front, the offensive line was really the star or stars of the game. Running the football we had 180-something yards rushing and we only had 62 plays. If we had run our normal 70 (plays) we would have been over 200. The pass protection was maybe the best it has been all season and blocking a front that's not easy to pass protect against. I thought they were the stars of the game."
If they were the stars then quarterback Jason Campbell was again the ringleader of the group. In what may have been his best career performance overall in terms of leading the team, throwing the ball and making decisions, Campbell threw for 189 yards and one touchdown on 18-22 passing and also ran for 16 yards on two carries. Campbell is now third in the league in passing yards, averaging 191.3 yards per game, and is first in efficiency at 171.4. In terms of attempts Campbell has fewer this season than all but two quarterbacks on the Top 10 yardage totals (Omarr Conner and Marcus Randall), but has managed to outperform them all. Borges said that to him there's little doubt where Campbell ranks, not only among SEC quarterbacks, but around the country.
"Our playmakers made some plays in crucial situations," he added. "Jason only had four incomplete passes and one of them was a throw away and one was a drop, so figure that out. He had to play pretty good. Right now, I'm biased, this kid is as good if not the best quarterback in the country. I've seen them all play on TV at one time or another. I don't know if Jason will ever be recognized for that because we don't put the ball up 35 or 40 times a game, but for what we ask him to do he goes above and beyond those expectations week in and week out. He had a 98 percent grade this week and I don't remember the last time I graded a player that high. I don't think he had that high a grade against Arkansas."
Campbell throws a TD against the Bulldogs.
Borges also had high praise for the running back duo of Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. In Saturday's game the two combined for 152 yards rushing on 31 attempts and caught 11 passes for 108 yards. Williams also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to top the day off and added 77 return yard to boot. Borges said that his two backs rolled into one have been fun to watch this season and are just now getting more and more involved in the offense.
"I'm getting spoiled I guess because both of these kids are just incredible players," Borges said. "They've upped my IQ by about 70 points. We figured he (Brown) was going to be a big part of the game on the receiving part and he was built into the gameplan. It turned out to be exactly what we thought. He's been built into our gameplan each week, but he was a much more prominent part of it this week.
"You could say we don't have a Heisman Trophy candidate, but if you put the numbers together we really do," Borges added. "We would win the Heisman going away unless somebody wasn't watching closely. If you look at what Carnell and Ronnie have done together. When you consider the rushing and receiving and we were only doing one guy, he would probably win the Heisman Trophy. Those two together, they ought to split it in half and give one arm to Ronnie and the head to Carnell."
Sunday the Tigers practiced for just under an hour with several players sitting out to rest after the physical pounding against Georgia. One of those was center Jeremy Ingle, who played on a sore ankle, but played very well. Sophomore Jonathan Palmer returned to practice on Sunday after sitting out over a month because of an illness. He worked some at center and with the reserves on Sunday. Getting him ready for the spring and next season is the job right now, but Borges said there's no doubt who the guy is up front for the Tigers that has made the most difference in 2004.
"He's the quarterback of the offensive line if that makes any sense," Borges said. "He's had a little experience now and I think the people around him are pretty confident. We tend to hit on all cylinders more often when he's playing."
Borges now gets his team ready for perhaps the biggest game many of them will play this regular season. Despite the undefeated record and the pressure of playing for the BCS, losing to Alabama would make everything go down the drain in one fell swoop.
The California native got a taste of what to expect this past week in the days leading up to the Georgia game. While the atmosphere inside a stadium is normally pretty routine no matter how much noise you have, the same isn't true before the game and even as many as three days before kickoff. Borges' parents made the trip for the Georgia game over the weekend and he said they left in awe of the experience.
"I have been telling them "hey, this isn't like the West Coast"," Borges said. "My mom and dad were just astounded to see people tailgaiting at their RV's on Wednesday. There were people out there War Eagling. I didn't go to Tiger Walk, but I got a look at it, but it was unlike anything I've seen. When you win like this people get more and more fired up about what's coming up.
"I have no clue, I don't even pretend to think I know everything about this because I haven't been in the game yet," he said about playing Alabama for the first time. "But I have been getting a sense of urgency about how other people feel about it."
When Auburn's offense lines up this weekend in Tuscaloosa it will be against one of the nation's top units. Second in the nation in total defense, first in pass defense, eighth in scoring defense, Alabama's defense has held the team together this season and Borges said it's going to be a tough battle for his guys, one they'll work to prepare for this week in practice.
"Alabama will get after you without ever blinking an eye," Borges said. "They'll play some zero coverage (no safeties deep, playing man-to-man) and things like that. From an offensive perspective, our side of the ball, this will be our biggest test. I think their numbers defensively bear that out."