Auburn, Ala.--There is little doubt that Auburn went into the game against the fourth-ranked Florida Gators last Saturday night with plenty of motivation. Not only had the Tigers lost two of their first four games, but they were a decided underdog playing on the road for the first time.
For senior safety Eric Brock it was unthinkable to be such an overwhelming pick to lose a football game, something himself and the team used as motivation to pull off a huge victory.
"We kind of took that to heart and as a shot to our program and what we've established here," Brock says. "I was telling guys that since I have been here I can't recall us ever being 20-point underdogs to anybody. We've set up a tradition around here and the way we play. For us to be rated as 20-point underdogs was a slap in the face and we kind of took it personal and went down there with a chip on our shoulders."
Defensively that meant putting the hammer to an offense that came into the game as one of the top units in the country. Playing outstanding football and tackling extremely well, Auburn shut down the Gators in the first 30 minutes and used solid play from the offense to take a 14-0 lead into the locker room.
"We always play pretty solid but for us to go into an environment like that and shut out a high powered offense like that in the first half," Brock says, "for them to not have anything on the board at halftime was an amazing effort.
"It was my first time visiting The Swamp and the first road game of the season," Brock adds. "The guys just came through. Everybody played spectacular with great effort all around. The offense came together. The defense came together. It was just a great team effort."
Now Brock and the Tigers must turn their attention back to the task at hand and that means a home game against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Currently 3-1 on the season, including an impressive victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, the Commodores are an explosive and veteran team on offense.
Led by quarterback Chris Nickson and wide receiver Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt comes into the game averaging 350.5 total yards and 28 points per game. Nickson has thrown for 719 yards with Bennett snagging 37 passes in four games to rank as one of the top pass catchers in the country for the third consecutive year.
The Vanderbilt game is the next in a potentially tough stretch for the Tigers with games at Arkansas and LSU to follow. As one of Auburn's most veteran players, Brock says that this team is focused on taking care of business beginning this week against the Commodores because life in the SEC isn't for the faint of heart.
"We try to break the season down into four quarters," Brock says. "We call ourselves in the second quarter of our season right now. You've just got to have a different mindset.
"The bulk of our schedule is coming up for us right now and we'll really get a chance to see what our team is made of. We've got a couple of tough home games and a couple of tough road games. We're in the heart of our SEC schedule and we're going to find out a lot about who we are and what we're made of."