"I thought we played really well today," Williams says. "We grinded the ball out and it wore down their defense. Our offensive line stepped up and did an outstanding job. It allowed us to be productive offensively."
Carnell Williams makes a move on Dominique Morris in Saturday's game.
Williams' big day earned praise from his teammates, including quarterback Daniel Cobb. "Carnell's performance was outstanding," Cobb says. "I felt that he did a good job in every facet of the game--breaking tackles, and making big runs, and even pushing the pile. It was good, and I think our offensive line was great for him."
Coach Tommy Tuberville also had praise for the sophomore tailback. "Carnell had a good day," Tuberville says. "We blocked well for him at times. A couple of times he was one step away from breaking it. He is a guy who is going to give you the big play. It really wasn't a full day of work. It was about a half-day of work."
Cobb also had a solid performance, throwing 13-for-18 with no interceptions. "There's still room for improvement," he says. "There's always room for improvement when you're coming off of the sideline and you're still getting an earful. I made a wrong read one time. We're still in search of the perfect game at the quarterback position."
A big factor in the offense's improved performance was the return of a healthy Marcel Willis, who caught six passes for 66 yard for the game. "It felt pretty good", he says. "I haven't done that in a long while. That felt nice. I think the chemistry of us working together for so long is starting to show."
Running back Ronnie Brown had a solid performance overall, despite fumbling the football in the red zone early in the second quarter. "I made a mental mistake on the fumble," Brown says. "Fortunately, our defense is good enough to not let that be a factor in the game." Brown had three carries for 26 yards on the day, and also returned a short kickoff 15 yards.
The improved performance of the Auburn offense meant fewer calls to senior kicker/punter Damon Duval to punt the ball away. "They're always going to be a tough opponent," Duval says of Vanderbilt. "You know, they always have been, in the years that I've been here, every time we've played them."
Duval missed his first field goal try on Saturday after missing two the previous game. "We have to just redeem ourselves, and forget about it, and come out on the next field goals and extra points and do what we need to do. I think offense and defense picked it up real well for us. We're a pretty close, tight-knit group and we understand that everybody's not going to play the best every game. We all go out, and do the best that we can, but offense is going to pick defense up, and vice versa, and special teams. So we all just have to continue to work as a team."
Duval was 4-for-4 on extra points and 1-for-2 on field goals, with one being blocked. The weather was less than perfect for a kicking performance, but Duval doesn't make any excuses. "We knew coming into it that it was going to rain," Duval says. "That's something you come into the game and prepare for. You can't let it affect you. The wet ball affected me a little bit on that last punt, but that's something that shouldn't happen." Duval dropped a perfect snap, but dodged the punt rush and dropped his punt dead at the Vandy six.
Possibly the biggest factor in Auburn's victory over Vanderbilt was the performance of the defense, which did not allow a touchdown the entire game. Karlos Dansby and Mayo Sowell both forced fumbles in the game, with Dansby and Spencer Johnson running the turnovers in for touchdowns. "Mayo made a great play, sacking the quarterback," Johnson says. "I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I have been eager to make a big play like that."
Johnson's first college touchdown sealed the victory, putting the Tigers on top 31-6 with 12:32 left to play in the final quarter.
The Tigers have little time to celebrate the win. They return to practice on Sunday to prepare for a Thursday night road game at Mississippi State.