The Auburn Tigers earned an A+ or very close to it on that assignment. The offense had eight possessions and scored a touchdown every time on the way to a 63-3 victory vs. the physically overmatched Cardinals on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Even with two backups starting on the offensive line with King Dunlap filling in for slightly injured tackle Marcus McNeill (knee) and Jonathan Palmer playing in place of Tim Duckworth (ankle) at guard, the offensive line was able to physically whip the BSU defense for four quarters.
With holes large enough to drive cars through on many plays, the Tigers rushed the ball for 390 yards on 35 carries, a gaudy 11.1 yards per carry average.
Kenny Irons led the assault with 147 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. His position coach, Eddie Gran, said he liked the way that Irons attacked the line of scrimmage and he will be the number one tailback for game four next week vs. Western Kentucky.
Brad Lester rushed seven times for 91 yards and ran back a kickoff 93 yards for a score. He also ran for a pair of TDs.
Tre Smith, who was questionable with a knee strain, had seven carries for 52 yards and one extra effort TD run plus two punt returns for 36 yards. Carl Stewart scored a TD, too, with eight carries for 51 yards.
Even Tristan Davis, who had been moved back to safety last week, got in the action at tailback late in the game He finished the scoring by racing 52 yards for a score to make the final 63-3.
The three points for the visitors and an ankle sprain on the first play suffered by Courtney Taylor, who is questionable for next week, were about the only disappointments for the home team, although a greedy senior linebacker was unhappy with allowing the visitors even a field goal.
"We did some good things on defense, but a zero would have looked a lot better than a three on that scoreback," Antarrious Williams said. "We played good on defense, but we have plenty of room to improve."
Offensively, there were few complaints as Brandon Cox looked more in command than in previous games. He hit 16-19 passes for 171 yards and a score to senior Ben Obomanu, who says, "You can see Brandon becoming more confident all of the time."
The offense, which had no turnovers and 572 yards, had the head coach smiling. "You have got to execute," Tommy Tuberville said. "The biggest thing is we have so many young guys who need some confidence and that is what we are trying to build--confidence. And then look at some younger players...this is perfect for us."
Tuberville said 74 players got into the action on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, which was more than half empty in the second half when the Tigers jumped to a 35-0 lead. "This game is a situation where we could evaluate a lot of players," Tuberville said. "Offense is about execution. It is really not about the team on the other side. They posed some problems with how they play on defense. They have a little speed defensively, but what we did today was pretty much execution and with a lot of guys who weren't starters."
Tuberville said he cannot remember being involved in a game in which his team scored on every possession, much less scoring a TD everytime it got the football.
Brady Hoke, coach of the visitors from the Mid-American Conference, said, "We got embarrassed by probably what is a good football team. That we will find out in the next few weeks. I was disappointed in how we coached and played. That is unlike us.
"We didn't fit our defense," the Ball State coach added. "Offensively, when you can't protect the quarterback you have a big problem. We also had a kickoff returned for a touchdown and a field goal blocked. There is no good news out of this football game."
For a second straight game, Auburn decided to kick off after winning the toss. It took the Tigers just six yards to move 48 yards for a score after Devin Aromashodu returned the kickoff 52 yards. The last man who had a shot at tackling the senior wide receiver got the speedster at the sideline.
After hitting Taylor for 16 yards over the middle to start the march on the play the junior was injured, Irons ran for three and minus. With the first AU reception by wide receiver Prechae Rodriguez to convert a first down, the offense was off to the races. Irons scored his first Auburn touchdown on a 13-yard power sweep of right end two plays later.
That first possession proved to be a preview of coming attractions as the Tigers scored on all five of their first half possession.
The second drive was also a six-play march. It covered 44 yards following a 19-yard punt return by Smith, who played on kicking teams and saw limited action at tailback. The Tigers scored using one pass play and five consecutive runs. Carl Stewart pushed in at right guard from one-yard out to make the score 14-0 with 6:37 left in the opening period.
Auburn's third score came after the AU punt return team was caught off guard by a fake, a direct snap to the up-back who gained 14 yards on this run. Although the visitors pushed the ball to the AU 28, the defense stiffened and AU got possession at the 20 after a punt was ruled down in the end zone. Nine plays later the Tigers were ahead 21-0 when Lester jumped into the end zone from a yard out at right guard with 13:06 left in the half.
The Tigers got the football back at their own 32 and had a lightning struck possession for the next score. Irons raced through a hole big enough to drive a truck through at left tackle and was not touched on the way to the end zone, 68 yards down field. That put the Tigers up 28-0 with 9:27 left in the half.
Brad Lester scored three touchdowns on Saturday.
AU's final possession of the half was its longest, which included a fourth and short two conversion by Stewart, who ran behind fullback Jake Slaughter at left tackle for two yards. The Tigers scored on third and goal from the four when Brandon Cox waited patiently for Obomanu to shake the coverage in the end zone and the QB threw a soft strike for six more points and a 35-0 lead with 30 seconds left in the half.
The offense didn't get a chance to start a drive until the second half of the third quarter because the Cardinals got the first possession and put together a 12-play, 55-yard scoring drive that ended on a 33-yard field goal by Brian Jackson, who played his high school football at Northview in Dothan. In the fourth quarter he missed his only other opportunity on a day when the visitors rushed for 93 yards and passed for 127.
The Tigers scored on their only other third quarter possession, moving 73 yards in nine plays with Smith as the featured back. He scored on an extra effort run through the middle of the BSU defense from six yards out with 2:07 left in the period.
The Ball State defense looked discouraged and ready to catch the bus in the fourth quarter on the hot and muggy day at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Auburn reserves kept the heat on the Cardinals in the fourth quarter and added two more touchdowns.
The first came on a three-yard run by Lester with 10:27, the first possession directed by Blake Field at QB. AU moved 80 yards in three plays. "I didn't know it was going to be this easy," joked Field, who was smiling after his college debut.
Lester raced 70 yards through a huge hole to set up the score. He then added seven yards and three for the TD.
After nearly having his first college pass intercepted on a play in which he rolled out the wrong way, Field led the Tigers on a nine-play, 88-yard scoring march capped by a 52-yard burst by Tristan Davis, who had spent the entire week practicing a safety.
Auburn's players talked running backs coach Eddie Gran into giving the redshirt freshman a chance to run the ball. After getting stuffed for a three-yard loss the next play, the speedster got a big hole and there was no catching him after that as AU took a 63-3 lead.
Tuberville said he liked seeing the big plays on Saturday, but added, "I am more impressed with the "eight, nine, 10 and a 11-play drives" for touchdowns."
The head coach said he was also pleased that so many different players saw significant action and contributed. "It is a big motivational point when you get to play guys who have worked so hard to play and you see them go in there and have a good time. The players respond to that. This a good team and they understand how hard everybody works. For those guys to have an opportunity to get in there and play and be successful, they are as proud of them as anybody."