Iron Bowl Loss Ends Rough Season For AU

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about his team's effort against Alabama and updates the injury situation heading into the offseason.

Auburn, Ala.--The day after was no better for Tommy Tuberville and the Auburn Tigers. After looking back on the 36-0 loss to Alabama in Saturday's Iron Bowl that ended a streak of six consecutive wins in the series, Tuberville said it wasn't what he expected after two good weeks of work on the practice field.

"We thought we had a good gameplan," Tuberville said. "The guys were really focused going into the game. We had a good frame of mind. We felt like we could win the game if we went out and played well running the football and being able to keep them from getting big plays.

"The big thing was the kicking game," he added. "Being able to do some things in the kicking game to keep them from having a short field. I thought the bright spot of the day was our punter (Clinton Durst). Other than one time he did an excellent job of getting us field position."

Much like it has done all season, Auburn's offense misfired even when given opportunities in good field position. Totaling just 170 yards of total offense and turning the ball over three times that directly led to 21 Alabama points, things never got clicking for the offense all season long and Tuberville said it wore on the defense.

"Offensively we didn't do anything to give our defense any hope at all," Tuberville said. "We didn't make many first downs. We had no drives and no big plays. It was just inconsistency that has hurt us all year long. Our defense had to stay on the field quite a bit."

Tuberville didn't deflect everything from the defense though as the unit had a chance to make some plays and didn't come up with them. Early in the game Auburn allowed Alabama to come off its own goal line and flip the field position, eventually kicking a field goal. Throw in a dropped interception where Alabama scored on the next play and it was far from a good performance on that side of the ball either.

"I'm a little disappointed in some of the things we gave up defensively," Tuberville said. "We normally play better man coverage. We turned a couple of receivers loose. We didn't tackle very well. A lot of the credit has to go to Alabama. They played a good football game. They came in with a sense of urgency. You could tell they wanted to end that streak and they did. They've got a good football team that came ready to play and took advantage of the mistakes we made."

Now the Tigers will lick their wounds from a rough 2008 season and head into the offseason with plenty of questions. Many of those surround the health of the team. Only Mario Fannin (stinger) got banged up in the loss to Alabama, but several more players face serious injuries and possible surgery in the coming days and weeks said Tuberville.

"Several will be looked at the next couple of days," Tuberville noted. "Lee Ziemba will be operated on Tuesday morning (knee). He'll be the first guy up. The other will be evaluated depending on when they want to do them.

"He (Ziemba) has had knee problems all year long and has fought through it," he added. "A lot of us would never have done that. He's a tough young man that wanted to play and go through the season. He had struggles mentally and physically. He was having the offsides problems, but it's probably pretty tough. We don't know what you do through with an injury like that in terms of pain going through a game and putting the pressure on it. He's a tough young man and overall, considering the knee, I thought he had a very good sophomore year."

With the likelihood that several more members of the team could have surgery including safety Zac Etheridge, Tuberville has said there is a chance that spring practice could be pushed back in 2009. That would give players such as Aairon Savage, Philip Pierre-Louis, Marcus Jemison, Andre Wadley, Jomarcus Savage and Tray Blackmon more of a chance to come back from injuries this season and go through spring.

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