Auburn Preview: Player to Watch Jason Campbell

It has taken some time, but Jason Campbell is finally becoming a respected quarterback in the Southeastern Conference.

The Taylorsville, Miss., native, a productive if not flashy leader for the Tigers, commanded the attention of SEC followers after his performance in a 10-9 victory over No.5 LSU two weeks ago. He completed 16-of-27 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown, and connected with Courtney Taylor on a 16-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 left on Auburn's 12-play, 59-yard game-winning drive.

For his efforts, Campbell was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Campbell is now 21-9 as a starter at Auburn.

Through the first three games, he compiled 419 yards and six touchdowns through the air. Campbell's 23 consecutive starts at quarterback is the longest streak by a Tiger since Dameyune Craig had 24 straight starts from 1996-97.

The recognition is well deserved, according to Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.

"I am really proud of him being named Player of the Week," Tuberville said. "Obviously, it is a long time in coming. He has done an excellent job for us and continues to play well. He has been a great leader for us."

The victory over LSU was a confidence builder for Campbell, but it also served the Tigers well as a team. Auburn is now ranked ninth nationally.

"It was one of those games you need in your program," Campbell said. "I saw how the players responded in a tough situation. They held up. I see we are growing."

So far, Campbell has few complaints about the Auburn offense. The terrific running attack has made ife easier for him. Running backs Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown had combined for 569 yards in three games.

Taylor has emerged as a big-play type receiver to help bring balance to the offense. Anthony Mix and Ben Obomanu are other capable receivers.

"I feel right now we are doing a good job," Campbell said. "There is still room to improve. We are playing with a lot of emotion and enthusiasm. "I think we have balance this year. We haven't had a lot of yards passing because of the running backs we have, but when we have been called on to do the job passing the receivers are making big plays."

The only deficiency so far on offense has been a tendancy to bog down inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

"We have got to finish drives," Campbell said. "We have been making it to the red zone, but we aren't finishing. We've got to get better at that."

A strong offensive line has been a pivotal part of the rushing game. Center Jeremy Ingle, guard Danny Lindsay and tackle Marcus McNeil have been the leaders.

"I think the line is as good as last year's," Campbell said. "Basically, it's the same guys. There were some young guys who got a lot of playing time last year, so it hasn't been a big adjustment."

The Tigers, not known as a big-play passing team in recent years, are trying to develop more of a deep threat through the air to loosen up defenses geared to stopping the run.

"We are working on throwing it deep," Campbell said. "We want to be able to get it down field. We can't complete them all, but we want to let the defenses know we can throw it deep. We have guys that can make big plays. We always feel like we have a chance. Defenses are backing up because they know we will take a chance."

While the offense appears to be making strides each week, Campbell isn't completely happy.

"I am not satisifed," he said. "I can always play better and so can the team. We want to improve as a whole offense. We are not in a comfort zone yet. We want to get better and better."

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