Tuberville Says Tigers Must Get Better

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Auburn's win over Arkansas and the plans for traveling to LSU.

Auburn, Ala.-–Coming off a long night of travel following a 34-17 thumping of Arkansas in Fayetteville, the 15th-ranked Auburn Tigers had a short Sunday practice before heading to the film rooms to prepare for the LSU Tigers. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that the performance against Arkansas was a solid one for his team, particularly on the offensive side of the ball where a quarterback grew up in his first road start.

"The overall performance was good, not great," Tuberville says. "I thought that the first road game was a good experience for us. It's going to get tougher now from week to week. It was a good overall game offensively. Brandon (Brandon Cox) made a couple of mistakes early in the game, which he's not going to be able to afford to do coming down the stretch. It was a learning curve for him, especially on the road. They did a lot of things to him that he'll continue to see and he'll have the answer for it, hopefully, down the road."

"We were a little concerned about communication and right off the bat we got an illegal procedure penalty, but that was the only one we got all night," Tuberville adds". "They gave Brandon a tough first half, but they weren't going to let him make any slow decisions. All of his decisions were going to have to be made quickly. He made a lot of good decisions, but he made two he would love to have back. Hopefully in the future he won't make that decision.

"I was really pleased with how the entire team approached the week of practice," he adds. "We went in knowing we would have to run the ball against their defense, and we did. We made some big plays throwing the ball down the field. It was pretty much a balanced night. That's the kind of night we need to have to get to Atlanta. For three quarters on offense I thought it was a good night, but we're going to have to play four quarters."

Tuberville says quarterback Brandon Cox must continue to improve as the Tigers face the meat of their schedule in the coming weeks.

Powering the way for an offense that controlled the game in the second half, the entire offensive line was named the offensive player of the week for the Tigers. On defense junior safety Will Herring earned game honors with seven tackles and a blocked field goal that proved to be a big play. Fellow Opelika alum Matthew Motley earned the special teams award for the Arkansas game. Tuberville says that Herring and the defense played well, but will need a lot of improvement before facing LSU Saturday night.

"We didn't tackle very well," Tuberville says. "We had somewhere, I think eight missed tackles in the secondary. That's not going to get it done. Overall, as a defense, we made enough plays to win the ballgame but it wasn't our best overall performance. It wasn't the type of performance that we're going to take to win down the stretch in the conference."

Auburn's injury situation is good considering the physical nature of Saturday night's contest against the Razorbacks. Running back Brad Lester is out for the LSU game after pulling his groin against Arkansas and it could be several weeks before he's back on the field. Tuberville says that Lester is the only key player the Tigers had banged-up against the Hogs.

"They'll scan it tomorrow," Tuberville says. "They x-rayed him last night, but it looks like a pulled groin. I don't know how long that lasts. We really don't have any others. We've got a couple of guys beat up, but nobody looks like they are going to miss the next game."

Auburn turns its attention now to the next game, but not before taking one final look at the win over Arkansas. In a game that saw the Tigers struggle before eventually putting the Hogs away, Tuberville says that it might be just what his team needed heading down the stretch in the SEC where nobody is looking at them despite getting hot recently.

"It's good looking back," Tuberville says. "It's probably good that we got behind. You hate to say ‘and make mistakes', but you find out a lot about yourself when you make mistakes when you're behind especially on the road. You don't let things bother you. You don't lose your poise. You don't panic. There wasn't panic in anybody's eyes.

"You earn your respect and we lost our chance early in the season," he adds. "It has been good that this team hasn't really worried about where they stand. They know that if they win games people will start talking about them. We've got a good team, not a great one. We're getting better. That's the only thing I'm concerned about."

The Tigers will again take to the road this weekend when they travel to Tiger Stadium to face the number seven LSU Tigers at 6:45 p.m. on ESPN or ESPN2. Without question it will be the biggest game Auburn has played in this season, but because of lingering problems surrounding Hurricane Katrina, there are not enough hotel rooms for the Auburn team. Just like Tennessee the Tigers will make the trip in one day and Tuberville says he doesn't think it's that big of a deal for his team even if weather wreaks havoc with travel plans.

"We'll stay in a hotel somewhere around, leave out of Montgomery, fly over there, and get off the bus and go to the stadium and play the game and come home," Tuberville says. "We'll play when we get there I guess. It's not our fault. You would have loved for this game to have been in the day so you would have a little bit of leeway in case of bad weather, but obviously the conference is not worried about that. We're going to go down there and go play. Hopefully we'll get down there in time."


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