Tuberville Talks Football Following Road Win

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about the good and the bad from the Tigers' win over Ole Miss Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Tommy Tuberville said that although his team didn't play as well as he would have liked in Saturday's 31-24 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels, he was very pleased with the end result, which was another win in the always tough Southeastern Conference.

"We obviously are thrilled that we won another conference road game," Tuberville said. "It wasn't one of our better performances. We had some good individual performances, but we played well enough to win. We controlled both lines of scrimmage, which was one of our main objectives. Anytime you can do that on the road everything usually works out for you. We didn't turn the ball over, which was good."

With his 224-yard effort on the ground and three touchdowns, sophomore tailback Ronnie Brown was named the Offensive Player of the Week by the coaching staff. Senior free safety Travaris Robinson earned Defensive Player of the Week honors with eight tackles and a late interception of Eli Manning that sealed the victory for the Tigers. Sophomore Donnay Young was the Special Teams Player of the Week for his play on the coverage teams for the Tigers. Tuberville said he was particularly pleased with Robinson's play on Saturday in the secondary facing a quarterback like Manning.

"Travaris Robinson played one of his better games since he's been here," Tuberville noted. "I'm really proud of his leadership on defense and his awareness of getting people lined up. We had some alignment problems, especially the second half with some new formations they gave us. T-Rob was doing a good job of getting people lined up. You can't have enough guys like him because of experience and football knowledge and leadership."

Defensive tackles Demarco McNeil and Spencer Johnson take a break during a timeout in Saturday's win over Ole Miss.

The defensive performance was especially pleasing for the Auburn coaches because of the push they were able to get up front against a talented Ole Miss offensive line. With Spencer Johnson back in the lineup, his running mate DeMarco McNeil was able to turn it loose in the pass rush while ends Jay Ratliff and Bret Eddins contributed with pressure from the ends. Tuberville said Johnson's play was encouraging to see coming back from an injured ankle that had bothered him since the Mississippi State game.

"Spencer did good," Tuberville said of the junior defensive tackle. "He's real sore today, but we expected that. He played 53 plays and graded out 87 percent. He had a sack and made some good tackles. He got out of position a couple of times in the running game right there at the end of the game guessing. Spencer knows better than that, but that happens sometimes when you don't see someone running the ball as little as they did. I was pleased with his effort."

Offensively, the Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage thanks to a line that has continued to get better with every passing week. Reaching the time in the first season of a new offense when the kinks start to get worked out, Tuberville said the offensive line was the story of the game on a day when Ole Miss stacked the line to take the run away.

"The offensive line did a good job," Tuberville said. "Monreko Crittenden continues to improve. I don't know whether he played any better, but I liked his attitude on the field. He's more in to the game and he's patting people on the back. He gets excited about good plays. I think he's becoming a real good football player. He's always been a good one, but he's playing more consistently now."

Quarterback Jason Campbell prepares to take the snap from Ben Nowland against the Rebels with Monreko Crittenden and Ronnie Brown looking on.

Next to Crittenden up front is senior Ben Nowland. The lone senior on the offensive line, Nowland has battled injuries his entire career and, though not entirely healthy this season, is playing his best football coming down the stretch for the Tigers. Tuberville said his presence has been a vital part of Auburn's success on offense this season.

"Your center is your most important guy because he has to communicate with all of them," Tuberville noted of Nowland. "Ben's been real good. He's worked with them, talked with them, and been like a father figure. He's real quiet and they respect what he does because he plays hurt every down, or it looks like he does. He always works through it. Ben has been the solid rock of the whole group being the only senior we have over there."

In his first road start since the LSU game last December, quarterback Jason Campbell played a solid game. Completing 11-of-21 passes for 113 yards and one touchdown with no turnovers, he did what was asked of him entering the game and that was, to borrow a line from the Oakland Raiders, ‘Just Win Baby.'

"Jason is playing pretty good," Tuberville said. "Yesterday wasn't one of his better games mentally, but he hasn't turned the ball over and most of the time the ball is on the money. There were several times that we ran the play the wrong way. You're never going to be perfect, but you would hope at times he would see the things he saw yesterday and be more accurate than what he was. He played a solid game; he didn't turn the ball over. He knew when to throw the ball away and didn't take a sack. He did some smart football things."

Despite the opportunities to open up the passing game against Louisiana-Monroe this weekend in a game that Auburn should control, Tuberville said the Tigers will continue to do what they do best and that is run the ball first and foremost. Not wanting to mess with the rhythm his team has developed, Tuberville said he expects Coach Bobby Petrino to do what he's done all year.

"It all takes the personality of the guy running the offense and Bobby Petrino is, if you'll notice, we're going to run the football," Tuberville said. "He's going to run it and if it doesn't work he's going to find another way to run it. That opens the passing game up. Jason is much better at play-action than any quarterback we've had. If the running game is going that's going to make Jason that much better."

Facing an overmatched opponent this weekend in the Louisiana-Monroe Indians (2-7), Tuberville said there are plenty of things for his team to work on this week in practice to get ready for the game. Focusing on the fundamentals this week such as blocking and tackling, he said that the win in Oxford keeps alive Auburn's hopes of getting to Atlanta and that's the goal of this team right now.

"There's a lot of room for improvement," Tuberville said. "It does give us another win on the road and keeps us in the conference race. Now we have a non-conference game this week where we'll need to get some people healthy and get re-focused. The way things are shaping us it looks like we still have a chance. We just have to keep playing hard and hope the ball bounces our way a little bit."

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