Perhaps Auburn's best performer during that time up front has been junior Timmy Duckworth. A former defensive lineman that made the move last season, Duckworth has been on a pancake warpath the last two weeks with 12. For the season he has 20, just five short of Ben Grubbs' team record set last season. While they feel good about what they're doing, Duckworth says the Tigers can't help but look back at what might have been against LSU.
"It's real hard considering the fact that we had over 200 yards rushing and they said we couldn't run the ball," Duckworth says. "We did that, we just couldn't punch it in. That's all there is to it. It's real hard to put behind me, but we've just got to forget those things in the past like Brother Chette (Williams) says and look to the future. That's what we're going to have to do.
"The only thing we have to do is refocus," Duckworth adds. "I think that's what we're going to do. We're going to come out and give it all we've got all the time. Knowing that we just lost that one like that makes us want to work even harder."
Duckworth is a physical player that loves run blocking.
Sometimes it helps to have a little motivation and Auburn has had plenty of that this season since opening with a loss to Georgia Tech. Since that time the running game has been in question and was even doubted by LSU as the Tigers prepared to head to Baton Rouge last week.
"Melvin Oliver is from Opelika and him and T.J. (Tommy Jackson) talk all the time," Duckworth says. "T.J. came and told us what he was saying about us, that we were soft and we weren't going to block them. That just made us mad as an offensive line. We said we were going to do whatever it takes to block those guys and to make them look bad. We tried our best."
It hasn't been just the running game doubted this season as Auburn's wins over teams like Mississippi State, South Carolina and Arkansas have been brushed aside despite the domination the Tigers showed in each contest. The LSU game was a chance for Auburn to show the country what they were made of and Duckworth says he thinks they did just that, but the Tigers still have something to prove after falling in overtime.
"Feeling that way and showing it are two different things," Duckworth says. "I myself don't feel that we've done all we can. I do feel that we made our statement that we can run with the big dogs, but it's all about what they see with their eyes. We're always going to say we can run with everybody else, but it's about what others say."
It's no coincidence that Auburn's running game took off when Kenny Irons began receiving more carries. A very talented back, Irons had problems with blitz pick-ups early in the season that kept him out of the rotation as much as he wanted. That has all changed in recent weeks as Irons has improved in every facet of the game and the results have been extraordinary. In his last two games Irons has 400 yards rushing, including 218 against LSU. Duckworth says that having a player like Irons to block for makes the job of an offensive lineman a joy on Saturdays.
"It means a whole lot to us," Duckworth says. "If we've got a guy that is going to run like that and we're blocking for him it makes us want to block for him even harder. It's just like when Cadillac (Carnell Williams) and Ronnie Brown were here. The offensive line opened up holes and made a way. If you've got running backs like that the offensive line is always going to feed off that and do the best they can."
Just like Jason Campbell, Duckworth is a Taylorsville, Miss. native, which makes this weekend's game a special one for the 325-pounder. Growing up around Bulldogs and Rebels all of his life, Duckworth says that this is one of the games that means everything to guys like him and Steve Gandy and Quentin Groves. It's their rivalry game.
"Like everybody from Alabama has the Auburn-Alabama game, this is my Alabama game right here," Duckworth says. "The two Mississippi teams are my Auburn-Alabama games. I'm always going to be pumped up for those two games. I'll be pumped up for any game, but I'm just a little bit more pumped up for this one because everybody I stayed around in Mississippi they were Ole Miss fans.
"It's real big," he adds about Saturday's game. "I have been getting calls ever since after the LSU game talking about ‘be ready for us'. I said ‘okay, we'll see'. I'm not going to do any talking. I'll let the pads do the talking on the field."