With senior Daniel Cobb directing the offense at quarterback to start the game, it took the Tigers just six plays to drive 67 yards for the first of eight Auburn touchdowns. Sophomore tailback Carnell Williams put the ball in the end zone on a 20-yard run with the game less than five minutes old.
The Tigers were able to turn two of their next three possessions into touchdowns, too. Williams scored from 42 yards out to cap a two-play, 50-yard drive and end his day very early in the first quarter. Brown scored from seven yards out as the Tigers raced 68 yards on six plays before Cobb went to the sidelines for the rest of the first half. The only non-scoring drive in the first quarter came on a missed field goal by Damon Duval.
Cobb says the performance of the offensive line, led by true sophomore center Danny Lindsey, played a big role in the offense's overall improved play. "Yeah, I felt comfortable and confident in it, even though we didn't have Ben (Nowland) today. I feel really comfortable about Danny's play," Cobb said after the game.
After the contest was well in hand, Jason Campbell got most of the action at quarterback and performed well. "I got into a rhythm," the sophomore said. "Guys around me were making plays. We started moving pretty good up and down the field for offense. We got an opportunity to work on our two-minute (drill)."
Campbell put up excellent numbers, going 12-14 for 147 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. Campbell said there is more to the position than just putting up impressive statistics. "I don't look at my stats," he said. "I go back and look at film and see what I need to improve. I try to personally to get better and better and just try to continue to work hard each day in practice."
Newcomer Tre Smith had a coming out party, netting 73 rushing yards on 14 carries with a touchdown. "It felt amazing," he said. "I've been dreaming about that day since I was a little kid, dreaming about scoring college touchdowns. As soon as I scored, I put my hand up in the air. I was the happiest person in the world."
Smith, who also returned two punts for 13 yards, said, "You get a roll going when you get a certain number of carries. I gained a little bit and gained a little bit more, gained a little more, and you just get a roll going. You start having fun out there, and things are rolling and going good, and it's the most fun thing that can ever happen to you."
Senior fullback Michael Owens, who has been bothered by an ankle injury all summer, also got a chance to carry the ball three times and gained 17 yards in the process. "I was very surprised at how much I got in," he said. "I wasn't planning on getting in tonight. They told me to dress out and be prepared just in case you go in."
On the defensive side of the ball, many players weren't satisfied with Monday's perfomance against USC in which they allowed 24 points. The game against Western Carolina gave the defense an opportunity to show what they had learned and improved on since Monday and they eagerly took advantage of it. The Tiger defense had its sights set on a shutout and that is exactly what they got.
With starter Dontarrious Thomas out at linebacker with a sore knee, redshirt freshman Antarrious Williams stepped in and had a solid performance. "I started Tuesday practicing with the first team," he said. "It's a little pressure on me, but once I got out there for a while I took care of business," he said. Williams recovered a fumble deep in Auburn territory in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout for the Tigers.
Earning a shutout was no easy feat for the Tiger defense, especially with very few regulars playing in the fourth quarter. The experience was invaluable for some of the younger players, though. Senior Rashaud Walker likes what he sees from the younger players. "Anytime you play a lot of guys, and they get in there and do what they're supposed to do, and fly around, that is good. I think everybody in there tonight did that. Even the young guys got in there and played pretty good. Anytime you can get that, you come down later in the season and that's going to get a coach's confidence up knowing that they can put anybody in there."
On special teams, senior Roderick Hood was solid on punt returns, carrying seven for 97 yards. Hood gives all of the credit to his teammates, though. "They did a great job blocking up front," he said. "They opened up a lot of lanes. I mean, it wasn't that hard for me to get open."
Now 1-1 overall, the Tigers have a week to prepare for their SEC opener as Vanderbilt comes to Jordan-Hare Stadium for an 11:30 a.m. contest on Saturday.