The Tigers open the 2005 SEC season on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. as the Mississippi State Bulldogs come to Jordan-Hare Stadium. MSU fell behind early, but pulled away for a 38-6 victory over Division I-AA Murray State while several hundred miles to the east Auburn was defeated by Georgia Tech.
"I think they have got a great running game," Gibbs says of the Bulldogs. "They know what they are doing. They are well coached and they play hard. You can see such a difference from just watching the film from when Auburn played them last year to when Florida played them and when Alabama played them.
"When they were playing at the end of the season they were a different football team," Gibbs adds. "They were just executing a whole lot better. You could see they were more comfortable in their scheme.
"I think they are scary," he says. "They are big up front. I think they are fast at wide receiver, they are fast at tailback, their quarterback is an experienced guy now who can run around and throw it. I think they believe in themselves. You can see it on the tape. They are fired up."
Gibbs called his defense's performance "unacceptable" in the opener and said that no player at any of the 11 positions had what he would call a good performance. The defensive coordinator also says Georgia Tech is due some credit for having a good night.
"I think they came out and their quarterback threw the ball well," Gibbs says. "He is a streaky player. Through the last couple years when he throws the ball well they generally play good on offense. He did it and we allowed him to do it. You have to give the kid credit. He executed early and had us on our heels. Anytime you have got a running quarterback who comes out throwing the ball well you have got problems.
"It is over and done. The good news is we face another one of those quarterbacks this weekend. This guy (Omarr Conner) probably throws the ball better than Ball does and runs just as well. Maybe we will have learned from our experiences."
Gibbs, who also coaches the secondary, says, "I thought the cornerbacks did okay. They started out and I thought they were a little timid early in the football game. Of course, they were younger guys who hadn't played before. Once they (Patrick Lee and David Irons) got used to the speed of the game I thought they tightened up.
AU's new secondary coach works with Montae Pitts.
"Montae (cornerback Montae Pitts) obviously came in and played better in the game than he had been practicing and that was a plus. I thought our safeties played average, at best, so we have to continue to work and get better there. I wouldn't give us a passing grade by any stretch."
Gibbs didn't single out any players for their performances in the loss. "I thought our whole defense was average, at best, at every position," he says. "There were a couple guys I thought played really well, but I am not going to name names. For the most part we were average and we played average."
Gibbs added, "We have got enough experience back and we should be better. It is unacceptable. It is not the players' fault. It is coaching. They weren't ready to go at first. You can't blame that on the players. That is on us. It is on me. We can't let it happen again."