Tuberville Says Tigers Proved A Point In Win

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about his team's 28-18 victory over Alabama to finish out the regular season 9-2.

Auburn, Ala.--"Four in a row and five SEC Western Division Championships in six years," said Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville after beating rival Alabama 28-18 for the fourth consecutive year and finishing the regular season at 9-2 overall and 7-1 in SEC play.

"It was an excellent year for us," Tuberville said. "We were just a couple of plays from something that not a lot of people thought we could have done two years in row," he added, after coming close to going undefeated in the SEC again. "I'm really excited about tonight winning the state championship for four years in a row."

Auburn will need LSU to lose to either Ole Miss or Arkansas to advance to the SEC Championship Game, but the Tigers' 7-1 league mark assures them of at least a tie for the West.

"We've won 24 out of the last 26 games," Tuberville said. "We have a good football team. We have for the last couple of years. Some people for some reason don't want to give us credit, but that's fine. We've pretty much earned respect from people who watched this football team.

"We should be a Top 10 team," he added. "As I told people at the beginning of the year, I told people that this team should be in the Top 10 and we should crack that. Even if we don't make the championship game we would like to have somebody look at us to possibly go to the BCS because we will bring a lot of folks."

For a defensive-minded coach like Tommy Tuberville, Auburn's win over Alabama couldn't have been much sweeter as the defense collected 11 sacks on Crimson Tide quarterback Brodie Croyle.

"It was an outstanding performance out of our defense," Tuberville said. Alabama was held to just 188 yards total offense. "Our defensive coaches did a heck of a job of game planning. I don't know, 11 sacks has to be a record for somebody. It was a beautiful sight, I know that."

Alabama tackles Chris Capps and Kyle Tatum were physically dominated and overmatched by AU defensive ends Stanley McClover, Quentin Groves and Marquies Gunn. The three ends combined for six of the 11 total sacks on the day. Another physical mismatch up front was center Taylor Britt trying to block nose tackle T.J. Jackson, who nailed Croyle for a loss twice.

"We moved our front a little bit and tried to confuse their offensive line," Tuberville said. "It looked like they were a little bit confused on their stunts. I just thought several times it was just effort. We didn't speed rush as much. We did more of what we call bull rush.

Quentin Groves celebrates a sack of Brodie Croyle.

After seven first half sacks by the Tigers, Capps and Tatum drew a handful of false start penalties while anticipating the rush of the Auburn front four.

"We put them on their heels and ran them back into their quarterback's face," Tuberville added. "I thought (defensive tackles coach) Don Dunn and (defensive ends coach) Terry Price did a good job of getting theses guys ready to play. We didn't blitz that much, it was more of a four man rush."

Tuberville, who is now 5-2 against Alabama as head coach of the Tigers, has a 3-0 record in Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa and is 2-2 at home versus the Tide. Auburn has won the last two on Pat Dye Field at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and Tuberville said that the crowd noise on Saturday gave his team a boost facing the No. 8 team in the nation.

"Our player got our crowd into it early," he said. "Offensively, we went down there and scored after we stopped them on their first drive. Everything worked for us. We turn around the second half and everything kind of went their way in the third quarter. Fortunately for us, our defense stood up. We held them out of the end zone until right there at the end. We had some of our backups in there. Again, it was a great defensive performance on both sides."

Auburn's win over Alabama gave the senior class a tie for most wins in schools history, joining the 1986-1989 teams with 39 career victories. The 2005 seniors share another distinction with the 1989 seniors--beating Alabama all four times in their careers. Fittingly, the Auburn victory came on a day that the field was dedicated in the name of Pat Dye, who coached Auburn from 1981-1992 and was largely responsible for bringing the Auburn-Alabama game to Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Another thing that Dye and Tuberville share is having to gain respect in the face of adversity, which Tuberville said his program deserves after winning 22 games and counting in the last two seasons.

"I told most people at the beginning of the year--and most people thought I was crazy--I thought we had as much talent as we had last year," Tuberville said. "When you have to earn respect, and for some reason we've had to earn it for the last couple of years, there was no doubt who was going to win that football game tonight after the first five or six minutes. Our guys made a statement. I'm proud of them, I'm proud of our seniors, I'm proud of our coaching staff.

"I am proud of all of these seniors," he added. "Not many players who played here at Auburn can say they never lost a game to their in-state rival. That's pretty special to be able to say that."


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