After struggling with consistency for much of the season on both sides of the ball, the Tigers played four solid quarters in the victory for the first time in 2002 against a strong opponent. Offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino said that most of that on offense was due to a line that controlled play against what was the top defense in the country heading into the game.
"We gave the Player of the Week Award to the offensive line," Petrino said. "They did a good job in the game and that's a good defensive front seven that we went against. To be able to rush the ball like we did, we got credited with no sacks although I think we gave up one. I thought they did a real good job."
Petrino also had high marks for quarterback Jason Campbell. After completing 7-of-11 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown and showing the composure and confidence that the coaching staff had been looking for out of him, the sophomore made strides forward in the game and Petrino said that was good to see.
"Jason showed real good poise," Petrino noted. "I thought he showed real good poise and competed real hard. I thought he did a good job of running with the football.
"He made some real nice plays. On one of our nakeds (bootleg), Brandon (Johnson) did a good job of getting the end blocked. Jason did a good job of stepping up underneath it and hitting Devin (Aromashodu) on the crossing route and got drilled right as he did that. He threw a quick out to Marcel (Willis) on the left side and took a shot right on the chin and then the next play he made a big play. That's what I kind of look at, how he does when he's getting hit and when there is someone in his face. I thought his concentration down on the field and his courage to step into the throw was really good."
Sophomore Victor Horn will be Auburn's third-team tailback this week against Ole Miss.
One problem the Tigers may run into is at tailback where reserve Chris Butler suffered a strained hamstring during Saturday's game and is doubtful for the Ole Miss game this week. With both Ronnie Brown and Tre Smith picking up the slack capably in the absence of Carnell Williams, the job of third-team tailback now falls to little-used Victor Horn. A fullback much of the season, the Huntsville native will get a shot this week to contribute if needed.
"That's who we would have back up now at number three," Petrino said. "I don't know exactly what Chris' status is this week, but I don't think he'll be available. Right now what we have is Ronnie, Tre, and Victor would be the next guy that knows the position and be able to carry the ball."
Missing all of the fall because of a high ankle sprain, the 6-0, 226 sophomore returned to practice recently and has been working as a scout team tailback along with his duties as a backup fullback. Now the former high school standout could get his shot, something that is not a comforting thought for Petrino because of Horn's lack of work this fall. "You would be nervous because of the fact that he hasn't had the touches," Petrino said. "He hasn't been hit carrying it and has been out for a long, long time, since two-a-days. He has to get in there this week and get hit. Hopefully, we'll just keep bringing him along."
Petrino had high praise for the tight ends in Saturday's win. Junior Robert Johnson continued his productive ways with three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown to go along with several nice blocks. With Cooper Wallace limited to less than 20 plays with a bruised shoulder, that left the bulk of the blocking to Johnson and senior Lorenzo Diamond and they responded with their best performance of the season.
"I think the last three or four weeks he's (Johnson) done a good job of staying focused," Petrino said. "We've been looking at opportunities to get him the ball. I think he's come along. Lorenzo had probably the best game he's had this year. He played with great speed and effort. He did a nice job of blocking. I was happy to see him step up and do a good job."
In addition to Butler, offensive guard Troy Reddick was the only Tiger to come out of the LSU game with an injury. After spraining a knee in the first half, the true freshman returned to the game in the second half and practiced Sunday. Defensive tackle Spencer Johnson was held out of his second straight game Saturday and his return is unknown at this time.
The Tigers will take Monday off before returning to work Tuesday in preparation for the Ole Miss Rebels. Kickoff for Saturday's game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. and can be seen on Jefferson Pilot Sports.