Oxford, Miss.--The Auburn-Ole Miss game is just another SEC game for most Auburn players and fans but not for senior guard Tim Duckworth. A Taylorsville, Miss. native and the cousin of former Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell, Duckworth has seen this rivalry from both sides and says that Saturday's victory, while it wasn't perfect, was still pretty sweet.
"It means a lot," Duckworth says. "It's a great way for the guys to send the seniors out especially with me being from Mississippi. It felt real good because I can't come home if I don't win this game. I would get badgered about it the whole time. Winning this game means a whole lot to me."
Duck shows off his Mississippi tattoo after the game.
A unit that struggled to block anyone early in the season, allowing 24 sacks through halftime of the Florida game, Auburn's offensive line went a full game without giving up a sack for the second consecutive week. It has now been 10 full quarters since Brandon Cox has been taken down. Duckworth says that was a big reason why Auburn's offense clicked the way it did on Saturday.
"It feels pretty good," Duckworth says. "We blame ourselves and put pressure on ourselves to do a good job blocking for our quarterback. Coach Tub (Tommy Tuberville) stresses that a lot and we try to make him happy."
With Cox healthy and throwing the ball well the Tigers finally forced an opposing defense to back off the line of scrimmage. When that happened a healthier Kenny Irons made the Rebels pay. Running the ball 15 times for 63 yards in the first three quarters, Irons hit Ole Miss for 43 yards on eight carries in the fourth quarter alone to salt away the Auburn win.
"If felt like the Washington State game to tell you the truth, running the ball wise," Duckworth says. "We didn't put the points on the board and it didn't show but I felt like we ran the ball pretty good. Having him back there healthy means a lot to us."
Late in the game Auburn needed yards on the ground to run out as much clock as possible. When those yards were needed more often than not the Tigers ran behind big number 76. Duckworth says he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I made sure I let them know," Duckworth says. "They always know I want the ball behind me no matter what. We've got a lot of playmakers on the team. The offensive line and linemen, we really don't get the show that everybody else gets. When you get the chance to run the ball behind you, you take full responsibility and try to do the best you can."