Sunday Football Notes I

News, notes and quotes from Tommy Tuberville on Sunday following Auburn's 35-3 victory over Tennessee Tech.

Players of the Week
Offense: Robert Dunn returned to action after two-game suspension and scored his first two collegiate touchdowns. He caught a pass over the middle from Brandon Cox, turned up field and scored a second quarter TD that put Auburn up 21-3. Dunn also scored in the third quarter on a reception from Blake Field. He finished the game with three receptions for 42 yards.
Defense: Josh Thompson was credited with four tackles including one for a loss on Senior Day.
Special Teams: Ryan Shoemaker booted four punts, one for 64 yards, and had a 52-yard average. The Golden Eagles were held without any punt return yards.
Scout Team Offense: Jeffrey Tarver, a freshman fullback from Stephenson High School in Stone Mountain, Ga.
Scout Team Defense: Brett Carr, a sophomore safety from Niceville, Fla., High School.

"It was a fun day--parents day and senior day," head coach Tommy Tuberville says. "We got a lot of players in the game. The main thing is we went out and accomplished what we wanted. We wanted to win the game, play good with the first team and get everybody into the game."


Cox, Field, Kodi Burns and Neil Caudle all took snaps under center in Auburn's 35-3 victory. Cox was a sharp 9-11 for 167 yards. Field was also impressive, other than one throw that could have been intercepted. He finished the day 6-11 for 92 yards and a TD and Tuberville says that he will be the backup this week as Auburn prepares for the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday.

"He's cocky, he believes he can do it, and that's the kind of guy you want at quarterback, especially somebody that's got to come off the bench," Tuberville explains. "I thought he played well yesterday. We had the team overmatched and he didn't have a lot of pressure on him in terms of having to score or a big pass rush. Blake has been patient and he's kind of been a journeyman. He's waiting his time and he'll go in to spring practice as maybe the heir apparent depending on how he does in these practices coming up and bowl practice. He's got some ability. He's a coach's son and he competes hard. I think he gets some of that from being a coach's son being around football a lot and believing he can do it."

Burns was 0-4 passing and Caudle was 0-3 with an interception.

"Brandon is our quarterback," Tuberville adds, "and what we've done each week is look at the defense we're playing and try to give us the best opportunity for somebody to come in. Kodi is a little different from Blake Field. Yesterday we looked at Neil Caudle. Neil got hurt at the beginning of the year and got off to a slow start. We'll go with probably Blake Field this week in terms of being our backup. Kodi will also get some reps. Brandon is our guy unless there is some kind of injury in the next couple of games, knock on wood that there is not, then Brandon will be the man."


Considering that the Tigers have gone 10 games without an off week, they are in decent shape from an injury standpoint.

"I thought (safety) Aairon Savage played well along with (linebacker) Merrill Johnson--two guys who had been on the shelf for a while because of injuries," Tuberville says. "They looked very active, made plays and should help this week."

Savage returned to action for the first time since early in the season, but fellow safety Zac Etheridge was held out against Tennessee Tech with a sore shoulder. He should be ready to play against the Bulldogs. There was also an subtraction to go along with Johnson's addition at linebacker.

"Craig Stevens (ankle)--we'll have to wait and see on him," Tuberville notes. "He's walking and jogging a bit, but I don't know whether he's going to be ready."

Quentin Groves played in Stevens' strongside linebacker position against the Golden Eagles.

Auburn emptied the bench and played 13 guys on the offensive line, but one of those was not Ryan Pugh. In his place, King Dunlap was the first-team left tackle and Mike Berry was the backup center. "Ryan Pugh should be back," says the head coach. "He was running just about full speed last week. He should be ready to go."

Tailback and kick returner Tristan Davis has played in only one game (Florida) this season. "(He) is running," Tuberville says. "I don't know, it just depends on how far he comes by Tuesday or Wednesday whether he'll play or not. He's getting close." Davis broke a toe during preseason and a foot against the Gators.

Tight end Gabe McKenzie injured his ankle on the opening kickoff on Saturday and may be held out of Sunday's practice. However, he is expected to play against Georgia. Wes Byrum is expected to return to his kickoff duties.


Auburn leads the all-times series with Georgia 53-49-8. The Tigers have also won 10 of their last 12 visits to Sanford Stadium, including a 31-30 classic in 2005.

Auburn enters the game at 7-3 overall, 4-2 in the SEC, ranked 18th in the AP Top 25 and 17th in the coaches' poll. Georgia is 7-2 overall, 4-2 in the SEC, and ranked 10th in both polls.

"We're getting ready to go into one of college's longest games in terms of playing each other," Tuberville notes. "It's always a great battle. Georgia has a much improved, excellent football team. Their team is really playing well. I haven't seen a lot of them, but we're looking forward to watching more of them tonight. They've got some good players. Last year here they disappointed our season.

"This is always a great game and we look forward to it on Saturday."

Last season Auburn entered the game at 9-1 overall and hoping to earn a spot in the BCS National Championship Game. However, a struggling Bulldogs team came to Jordan-Hare Stadium and drilled the Tigers 37-15.

"It's hard to forget those types," Tuberville notes. "We went into that game with two games left in the season. We had a great opportunity and were playing pretty well, and Georgia came in, hit us from play one and never let up. We never recovered.

"We've looked at it, we've studied it, and they do a great job over there. They've got good football players and I think they've improved. We've improved. I think this is the case of two teams that probably started off slow and kind of found themselves. It's going to be a heck of a game.

"The big thing about rivalries is that you can't worry about anything that's on the line," Tuberville continues. "You think too much about records, conference championships or getting to Atlanta, you start thinking about all of those at the end of the year and then it jumps up and bites you. If you go back and look at this game, it's always a hard fought game and there is not a lot of difference between either team. There is usually big plays. I can remember two plays, one in Georgia's favor and one in our favor two years ago, that really turned the game. It's a game of players. Coaches--we just kind of get out of the way in this one and the one we play in two weeks. We try to get them a game plan in and let the seniors take over. This is their last go around. I think both sets of seniors really do a pretty good job in this game."

Kickoff for the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry is set for 2:30 p.m. CST on CBS Sports.

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