With the SEC crown and a perfect 12-0 record neatly tucked under his belt one of Tuberville's biggest building blocks, Carnell Williams, could only come up with one word to describe what it all meant to him after four long years. "Special, Special, Special," Williams said with a huge smile one his face.
Williams said that when Tennessee stripped the momentum from the Tigers in the third quarter and tied the game at 21, he and the rest of his senior class, which has shown tremendous tenacity during their time at Auburn, let it be known to everyone else on the Auburn sideline that their goal of an SEC title was not going to die on the field in Atlanta.
"I think with me, Jason, Ronnie and some of the seniors on defense, we took over the young guys and said, ‘Hey, we didn't come here to lose--No! We are going to be okay.' When they tied up the game nobody panicked or whatever, we said, ‘Hey, ‘We are going to be okay.' We knew we were going to win the ball game."
Fifth-year senior and former walk-on Jeremy Ingle added that the SEC Championship Game was exactly the type of situation that you have to have strong senior leadership to be able to win.
"This kind of game where it is just swinging back and forth and back and forth in the second half you have got to have a good group of seniors to settle everybody down and get on the field and say, ‘Listen, we are okay. We have just got to go out there and execute and we are going to win this game.' That is exactly what we did. We got in the huddle looked each other in the eyes, got back to back and did what we had to do."
Another fifth year senior, defensive end Bret Eddins, said that on the defensive side of the ball some of that senior leadership even spilled over to some of the underclassmen. "Yeah, things were going bad and you don't really know what is going on, but I think everybody kept on each other to the point--you are not mad at people you are just kind of disappointed that it's not working," Eddins noted. "Some of the older guys, and some of the younger guys stepped up and got on people when they needed to and I think we played good enough, maybe not as good as we could have, but good enough."
Williams said following the game, with everything that was on the line in the Georgia Dome on Saturday night it made even a veteran such as himself make a few bad decisions. "I wanted it so bad," Williams said about the SEC Championship. "I know the kickoff return was about eight yards deep and I just came out man. I just felt good.
"Then, on the punt return I should have fair caught it," Williams said. "We were in a safe return too and they really just told me to fair catch the ball, but I was just frustrated because he kept kicking away from me. So, once I had a chance to get the ball in my hands--I felt like back there I am a threat. It ended up all good though."
Ingle added that despite the fact that his injured ankle was in horrible pain after twisting it again in the second half and being taken out of the game for a while, he and some of his fellow seniors were not going to let him finish his SEC career on the bench.
"I went out and then, I believe, Timmy (Duckworth) went in there and he stepped up," Ingle explained. "He went in there into a hostile environment and a loud crowd and played hard and that is what you have to do. He went in there and stepped it up for me. Then, Danny (Lindsey) and them came off the field and told me they were going to pick me up and there was no way I was going to sit this one out."
The center also noted that being able to walk off the field of play in the Georgia Dome as an undefeated champion will always be one of his greatest achievements. "Somebody else said earlier that we were the first team in Auburn history to win 12 games and that is something we can always hang our hat on," Ingle said. "You can always be proud of something that you have done in you life. I am sure 20 years from now I will still look back to that night as one of the defining moments in my life."
The tough and talented lineman also explained that being able to accomplish such an extraordinary goal with the group of players that he has laid it on the line with day in and day out for the past five years only makes it sweeter. "To be in my fifth year and have a group of seniors that are so great like Jason, Carnell, Ronnie, Danny Lindsey and Rich Trucks, all of those guys are good friends of mine and I would do anything for them and I think you see that on the field when we start fighting for each other," Ingle said. "We get back to back."