Auburn, Ala.--Auburn's offensive line had done enough talking. They had also done enough listening. All week long they knew what they had to do and who they had to do it against. Saturday night the pieces all came together up front as the Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage on the way to a 27-17 victory.
"This means a whole lot," guard Timmy Duckworth says. "I know a whole lot of people didn't think we could do it but as we had devotion Friday night we talked about putting the pieces together. We came out and everybody put the pieces together. We played our game the whole time. I'm still on cloud nine because it feels so good to get this win and let everybody know that we are one of the top contenders in the SEC."
The night wasn't perfect for Duckworth and the offense but late in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line they delivered. At no time was that bigger than a fourth and one late in the game. Although the drive ended moments later on John Vaughn's only miss of the night, the first down allowed the Tigers to run off valuable time and keep Florida off the field.
Auburn's offensive line more than held its own against a tough Florida front.
Before the play Duckworth showed an energy and leadership that was something missing for much of this season. In the huddle Duckworth challenged every offensive lineman before slapping King Dunlap in the head to close his conversation. Duckworth says that it was up to his guys up front to get the job done and they did it.
"It was real important that we try to stay on the field and run off as much time as we can," Tuberville says. "As an offensive lineman and a leader when you look on the other side that defense is keying on what you do. If they see you bending over they are going to try to tee off on you the next play. As an offensive lineman and a senior you've got to step up and take charge. I don't care if you're tired or whatever it is, after we get this first down and score you can chill after that. That's basically what I told them and they came out and did it."
Early on it was up to the offense to keep the Tigers in the game as the defense struggled to slow down the Gators' offense. That all changed to open the second half following a tongue lashing from coach Tommy Tuberville at halftime. Guard Ben Grubbs says that the defensive stand gave everyone some energy and proved to be just the shot in the arm the team needed.
"It was so good seeing my teammates out there making tackles and having fun and playing with emotion," Grubbs says. "I think that was something we lacked in the previous week, playing with emotion. It makes you feel so good that we can come together after a loss last week and have a big win over Florida."
The biggest piece that came together to form the puzzle may have been at center. With Joe Cope out sophomore Jason Bosley got his second start and early on really struggled against a physical Florida front. Following several mistakes in the first 30 minutes things just seemed to click for the Huntsville native in the second half. Duckworth says that he saw a youngster grow up right before his very eyes. That is something huge for the offense.
"He stepped up," Duckworth says. "You talk about putting pieces together, he stepped up as one of the starters. It felt like he had been playing there the whole time. It kind of felt like Joe Cope was there at one time but it wasn't him it was Boz. He studied film over and over and we talked to him. He handled everything real well."
The Tigers now turn their attention to the Tulane Green Wave as they attempt to take care of business while improving on offense. Despite a solid night there is still plenty to work on after the struggles in the red zone but Duckworth says overall he's pleased with how the line took care of business when the game was in their hands.
"Those guys that lined up against us are the best that most of us have ever seen," Duckworth says. "They came out and played hard and did a real good job but we kind of got the best of them. We overpowered them today. It means a lot and I'm real happy with the effort of the offensive line."