Tigers Put Loss Behind Them, Turn To Ole Miss

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about getting over the LSU loss and preparing to face Ole Miss.

Auburn, Ala.–-With the sting of disappointment slowly fading following the 20-17 overtime loss to LSU last weekend, the Auburn Tigers will get back to business Tuesday afternoon with their second practice in preparation for the Ole Miss Rebels. Coach Tommy Tuberville says that getting ready to play this week after such an emotional game last Saturday night is the biggest job for the Tigers now.

"That's a challenge for coaching staffs and teams around the country of putting wins behind you and losses behind you," Tuberville says. "This is our week to put that behind us. I like the make-up of this team. I like how they played. I like the effort.

" "That's what you sometimes hang onto more than anything when you have a big loss like this is the effort that you put into the game," he adds. "How hard they played and the emotions, just the physical abilities that were on both sides. Somebody is going to lose and somebody has to regroup. We're the team that has to regroup this week."

If Sunday was any indication then Auburn should be in good shape this coming Saturday. Despite not having much rest and the thoughts of the LSU game still fresh on their minds, the Tigers were upbeat during practice and working hard. Tuberville says while the team played well there is still plenty of work to be done with four weeks left in the regular season.

"After that game it was over and done," Tuberville says. "Our guys have put it behind them. Today we start preparation for our next conference game and start working on our consistency. If we had any complaint about what we did the other night on offense, defense and the kicking game obviously it was consistency. We've got to work on that, but that's always a work in progress on any team. We've got to get better in every area."

Running back Kenny Irons is averaging 137 yards per game in his last five games after averaging just 17 yards per game in the first two contests.

The kicking game is an obvious concern after its struggles Saturday night. Solid all season long, the Tigers had a dismal performance on special teams and it cost them dearly in the loss. Field goal kicker John Vaughn made just 1-6 field goals after having been 7-9 on the season to that point. Tuberville says that he has confidence in Vaughn because of the work he puts into his job every week.

"This will pass," Tuberville says. "As I told some people, I came up here at 11 o'clock Sunday morning and he was kicking balls out on the practice field. We didn't get home until about 3 o'clock so he didn't get a lot of sleep. He wants to make himself better and I'm proud of John for the way he's handled it.

"That's what life is about and that's what college sports are about," he adds. "It's about teaching young people how to handle tough things in life that are coming up. Obviously this was one thing that will stick with him, but he will remember the experiences from it."

Something the team can build on coming out of the LSU game is an offense that exceeded all expectations by pounding out 451 yards of total offense with 230 coming on the ground. Behind the running of Kenny Irons, who has 400 yards in his last two games, Auburn moved the ball up and down the field. Tuberville says if things keep improving they have a chance to be a special unit.

"We had an opportunity to move the ball both through the air and on the ground," Tuberville says. "That was as good of a performance from a running back in a tough situation that I've seen in a long time. We've had some pretty good running backs around here, but Kenny ran tough and he ran motivated.

"He was very into that ballgame as he was the Arkansas game," he adds. "I'm anxious to see how much better he's going to get each week. It was a great performance by not only him, but our offensive line. We continue to get better there."

This weekend the Tigers welcome Ole Miss and new coach Ed Orgeron to Jordan-Hare Stadium. A former colleague of Tuberville's when the two were at Miami, Orgeron has former Auburn offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone on his staff to make for an interesting coaching match-up in the game. But, it's on defense where the Rebels are tough and Tuberville says that it will be a challenge for his offense this Saturday to be successful.

"Ole Miss is a team with a new staff," Tuberville says. "You can tell they're trying to get their philosophy over to the players they've inherited. They've gotten better as the year has gone along. We've watched each game, watched their defense and how much improved they are on defense. They've got some good athletes, got good speed and quickness, make a lot of plays, and give you a lot of problems. That will be an interesting match-up with our offense versus their defense."

For Auburn the job is now simple. Win and hope to get some help. Saturday night's loss to LSU cost the Tigers the chance to win out and get to Atlanta. Tuberville says now the team is just focused on doing all it can to finish strong and let the chips fall where they may.

"The biggest disappointment from that game is knowing we lose the right to control our destiny," Tuberville says. "We can't do that, but the only thing we can control is the next four games. We want to get better. Are we good enough to win any of these, we'll have to wait and see.

"We have some tough ones coming," he adds. "This one this week and then we go on the road for two weeks and then we come back home. The month of November is always tough here at Auburn because of the types of games that we play and the teams we play. We'll find out a lot about this team in the next month."

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