Tuberville Says Rebs Improving

Auburn's head football coach says his Tigers will face an improving Ole Miss team this week.

Auburn, Ala.--Tommy Tuberville says from watching video of this week's opponent, Ole Miss, that he believes the Rebels have improved since early in the football season despite a disappointing 2-6 record this season.

Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Tuberville and his 7-1 Tigers will take on Ole Miss at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, a location where Tuberville served as head coach for four seasons before coming to Auburn for the 1999 campaign.

"Ole Miss' record is not as good as I am sure they would want, but just looking as I have at all their games, they are steadily improved. Their back was against the wall bringing their quarterback (Brent Schaeffer) in late in the summer, learning the offense.

"I have known Ed Orgeron (Ole Miss head coach) for 20 years," Tuberville says. "Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner was an administrative assistant with us back in 1999, and their offensive line coach (Art Kehoe) I coached with for eight or nine years back at Miami. I know those guys well. They are good coaches and you can tell they have put their touch on the last six or seven weeks."

Auburn heads to Oxford with a 4-1 SEC record. The Rebels are 1-4 in the league with their only conference victory a 17-10 decision at home vs. Vanderbilt on Oct. 7th.

"They haven't won as many games as they had hoped, but they have steadily improved," Tuberville contends. "They have gotten better. They are running the ball much better and their offensive line is really getting good.

"They have had some injuries at tight end and some other places. Their running back (BenJarvus Green-Ellis) is a strong SEC running back, and you can tell that their quarterback is getting better adjusted to some young receivers, mostly true freshman receivers he is throwing the ball to.

Brent Schaeffer is the first year starter at quarterback for the Rebs.

"It's been kind of interesting to watch how they have progressed each game as we have watched them as a football team and as a coaching staff," Tuberville says. "They are doing a good job and we are going to be in for a challenge this week.

"Last week, they played very hard against Arkansas. They got off to a bad start with a kickoff returned against them, but they held their own. They moved the ball and ran the ball pretty well offensively, and gave Arkansas some problems."

Auburn leads the series and defeated the Rebels 27-3 last year in Orgeron's first season as head coach of the Rebels after moving there from Southern Cal where he was an assistant.

"Coach Orgeron coaches the defense himself," Tuberville notes. "He is a defensive guy and he worked with me at Miami on defense. They are a little similar to what we used to do, but they have changed some.

"They don't have a big defense, but they are quick and fast. They have the best defensive player in the SEC in Patrick Willis. I have never seen a guy make as many tackles as he does from sideline to sideline. You can block him and he will get up and still make the tackle. When I saw him run down (Darren) McFadden from Arkansas basically from behind with no angle, I knew he had pretty good speed. They built the defense kind of around him, got him in the middle.

"They move the front around quite a bit to use their quickness," Tuberville states. "They have a lot of young guys who are playing, but they play hard, they play very fast and they play very physical. You can tell their players are responding to the coaches they have there. They are a well-coached team, they have a lot of younger guys, but they have improved and gotten better."

Ole Miss had its most lopsided loss of the year last week, dropping a 38-3 game at Arkansas while Auburn defeated Tulane 38-13. Kickoff for Saturday's game is shortly after 11:30 a.m. and it will be televised regionally by LFS.

"We are going to their place this week," Tuberville says." It will be a challenge for us. We are still looking for us to play a complete ball game on both sides and the kicking game. I think this will be our best opportunity knowing that we have got more people back close to 100 percent that we can possibly go out and execute better than what we have."

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