Tuberville Says Depth The Key For Tigers

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about the victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl and some of the top individual performances.

Auburn, Ala.-—Following Auburn's 28-18 victory over arch-rival Alabama that improved its record to 9-2 overall, coach Tommy Tuberville talked about his team's desire to win the game for respect. One day later he says that there's little doubt his defense was story of the game in the win.

"We played with a lot of intensity yesterday and that started last week in practice," Tuberville says. "It's pretty hard to play two teams of that caliber back-to-back and play with the emotion we played with. Our guys found a way to get it done. The ballgame was pretty much in hand after the first quarter. We set the tempo.

"I thought going into the game, their strength versus our strength, which was our offense versus their defense, we had a little bit of the upper hand. Our defense really made the difference. They gave us good field position. They played with intensity and stopped the run and put pressure on the quarterback. They really set the stage for the rest of the game."

While the defensive front got much of the attention for its 11 sacks against Alabama, which is a school record since sacks first began being kept in 1982, there were several solid performances on the defense that didn't get much attention. Senior linebacker Travis Williams had 11 tackles and two sacks while cornerback Jonathan Wilhite shut down his side of the field in the win.

"We had a lot of real good performances," Tuberville says. "I would like to point out one. Jonathan Wilhite really played well. He's gotten better and better each week. Offensively the entire offensive line, even though we struggled at times, with what we did in the second half and letting the air out of it, they still created holes and gave room for Kenny (Kenny Irons) and the guys to run and make first downs.

"Brandon Cox played well. He continues to get better. In the first half he was on except for a couple of passes. It was a good effort. I was excited about winning, finishing up on a strong note, and beating two Top 10 teams."

Another player Tuberville singled out for his play was junior center Jonathan Palmer. Starting in place of Joe Cope, who couldn't go after spraining an ankle against Georgia, Palmer played well and Tuberville says that was huge for the offense.

"Jonathan Palmer, I thought that was just a great job by him coming off the bench," Tuberville says. "Starting for the first time at center and playing against your in-state rival and playing as effective as he played, he really played well. That just goes to show you that depth is going to win out for you."

There are several players banged-up following back-to-back tough games against Georgia and Alabama. In addition to Cope, tight end Cooper Wallace suffered a sprained knee against the Crimson Tide and defensive end Marquies Gunn bruised a shoulder. Other than that he says the team came through pretty healthy.

"Gunn has got a bruised shoulder and he could play this week (is there were a game), but we need to rest him," Tuberville says. "Cooper sprained his knee. He probably would not play this week if we played. He'll be out a week."

The Tigers not turn their attentions to getting some rest and relaxation over the Thanksgiving break and hoping for an upset in Baton Rouge on Friday when Arkansas travels to LSU. He says that it's hard to believe how far this team has come since an opening night loss to Georgia Tech, but it has been a fun ride to this point.

"It's night and day," Tuberville says. "That was our best team effort on both sides. Defensively I would say that's our best effort. It wasn't our best effort on offense, but it was for what we asked them to do. We made a couple of mistakes in the kicking game, nothing we can't improve on. You can just see the confidence of this team.

"Nobody knew what to expect, the fans, the coaches, the players, we didn't know what to expect the first game. The coaches did a good job of making adjustments throughout the year. We stayed with what we were doing. It was fun to watch this team improve. We look forward to playing another game and maybe two games, but it's good now to the air out of it, enjoy Thanksgiving, and relax."

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