Tuberville Says Tigers Upbeat Despite Loss

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about Auburn's loss to LSU and what his team can take out of the performance.

Auburn, Ala.-–A day removed from a 20-17 overtime loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, Auburn got back to work as they begin preparations for the Ole Miss Rebels. First the Tigers sat down and watched the video of last night's game and coach Tommy Tuberville says that watching it only cemented his impressions of the game last night.

"Our guys laid it on the line," Tuberville says. "They played hard and carried out the gameplan. We made a few mistakes coaching and playing. It's just one of those hard-fought SEC games, very physical. That's something that you would expect. Not really any injuries to speak of that are new. We've got a lot of guys beat up, but not anything that anybody won't be back from.

"I thought we played hard from the beginning to the end. We had some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of, but they did too. It was one of those games that kind of went back and forth. Overtime is tough and is one of those things where obviously you have to be on top of your game. We weren't and they were. We'll learn our lesson from the mistakes that we made, we'll learn from the things we did right, we'll go on and try to get better this week and hopefully improve on the outcome."

The biggest story from the game was the bad night had by Auburn junior kicker John Vaughn. Coming into the game 7-9 on the season, Vaughn made just one of six field goal attempts against LSU with the final one coming in overtime to end the game. Tuberville says that while his kicker struggled he's not concerned about his ability to get the job done down the road if needed.

"Everybody knows that kickers are either the heroes or the goats," Tuberville says. "There is no in between. John has done some good things for us. He knew yesterday that he wasn't as consistent as he needed to be, but you can go back and look at a lot of things. We probably shouldn't have had to kick all those field goals. We could have done a better job of getting the ball down there. He took it hard, but he'll come back and bounce back. He'll do a good job for us the rest of the year.

"He's been kicking great in practice all year long and he's been kicking real good in games," he adds. "It's just one of those, the wind was blowing a lot more than it has all year. It's like making a 15-foot putt that breaks four or five feet. You have to be able to take that angle and calculate it in and kick it at that angle and let it ride.

"As he told me, he made some mistakes and kicked it in the wrong place and there was more wind than he thought. That's part of it. He's been there and done that. I've got as much confidence in him now as I've ever had. He understands what he's got to do and he's got all of the bad ones out. Now he'll make the rest of them hopefully."

David Irons, shown here against Mississippi State, had his best game of the season according to Tuberville.

While Vaughn was struggling in the situation, sophomore quarterback Brandon Cox thrived as twice he led drives late in the fourth quarter. The first gave Auburn its only lead of the game at 17-14 and the second gave Vaughn an opportunity to win the game in regulation. Even though Auburn didn't come away with the win, Tuberville says they came away knowing more about the make-up of the team, particularly at quarterback.

"He's growing up," Tuberville says. "That was a great experience for a lot of those young kids, especially Brandon. He's not going to see a more difficult situation than the one he was in. We got behind and he brought us back and then we got behind and he tried to bring us back again. He saw all types of blitzes and stunts, was hit late. It's things he's going to have to reckon with. I thought he graded out good."

Another player that graded out well was senior cornerback David Irons. In what Tuberville called his best game to date, Irons was all over the place in both run support and pass defense. He admits Irons still has a lot of work to do as far as technique and thinking his way through the game, but having Irons along with Jonathan Wilhite, Montae Pitts and Patrick Lee gives the Tigers four solid corners heading down the stretch in SEC play.

"Wihite is the one that played more," Tuberville says of the next group. "Montae only played about 19 snaps and Wilhite was in the forties. He was the guy I was more impressed with. He got hurt on the slant and go on that long play. He was being aggressive trying to get out of the third down situation. He tackled better. I thought we tackled much better. We did miss some tackles, but you're going to have the opportunity against those guys to miss some tackles. We held our own pretty good."

Auburn's injury situation is in pretty good shape heading into the week of practice for Ole Miss as several players were held out of Sunday's workout, but are expected back for the Rebels. The only player out at the moment is running back Brad Lester with a strained groin, although he was doing some light running on the side during practice.

One player who may be done as a Tiger is defensive lineman Neil Brown. The sophomore from Buford, Ga. has been bothered by neck problems for the better part of the last month and has had three different evaluations done to see if and when he can return to playing football. Tuberville says the outlook isn't favorable at the moment, but the decision on what he can and can't do remains in Brown's hands.

"He and I had a long talk about what he wanted to do with his neck and whether he wanted to t ry to push through it or get it 100 percent healthy," Tuberville says. "Basically the ball is in his court."

A weary Auburn team was in good spirits on Sunday despite the late night and disappointing loss to LSU. Although it's something that could be tough to get over, Tuberville says he doesn't believe it will have any adverse conditions on his team as they prepare to face Ole Miss.

"If we had won it would have been the same thing," Tuberville says. "We're just disappointed we didn't get the W. The guys laid it on the line. We had a senior meeting and it was great. Everybody was upbeat. They know we still have an opportunity to win the West. We might not go to Atlanta, but we can at least have a share of it. We're going to worry about going out this week and working out the problems we had in the game."


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