Auburn Preview

Auburn's football team entered last season with huge expectations that included talk of a possible national championship. A few games into the season, the Tigers were simply trying to maintain their dignity after losing their first two games and watching their postseason aspirations disappear.

It was supposed to be a banner year for Auburn and coach Tommy Tuberville. Several noted publications had the Tigers ranked very high, with one or two even tabbing Auburn as the preseason pick to win the national title. Jason Campbell decided to bring a different outlook to the 2004 season, one that required all players to check their egos at the door.

So far, the approach has worked wonders. The Tigers are 3-0 heading into Saturday's game with Tennessee. They have an impressive SEC West Division victory over LSU to their credit.

"We are taking one game at a time," Campbell said. "Last year guys read too many newspapers and clippings. They forgot that you have to go out on the field and produce. They thought we could just show up. This year we are staying focused and we are not looking ahead. "We are doing a good job of staying together as a team. There is a lot of team unity. We aren't talking about the polls or anything. If we do that, we have an opportunity for success."

Even Tuberville, who questioned the sanity of certain sportwriters calling Auburn a potential national champion last year, likes the personality and work ethic of the Tigers.

"The team is really coming together well," he said. "I like their attitude. It is hard to get a team this confident so early, even though they have won games. They are really enjoying getting better."

The victory over LSU was huge for the Tigers. A crucial division game is under their belts early, and they now have to be considered the favorite to win the West.

The performance, though not perfect, was the kind of effort Auburn can build on. Still, there are some areas Tuberville wants to see get better.

"I thought our guys really played hard and with a lot of intensity," Tuberville said. "The defense really played strong, well and consistent. A lot of encouraging things happened in that game. We do have room for improvement. We are going to make some moves on special teams to try to improve in that area.We will look at some different young players."

Avoiding a letdown the following week against The Citadel was a big relief for Tuberville.

"The thing this team has done pretty well over the years is focus whether we won or lost," Tuberville said. "That is a tough job for me as a head coach. That is what we try to do and get the guys to understand that you have to forget about last week's game. I told them they will get a lot of handshakes and a lot of pats on the back, which always happens when you win a game like this. It doesn't mean a whole lot if you don't respond the next week. "We have a pretty experienced team in a lot of areas. These seniors are real good about that. We talked about how much better we need to get better and to strive to push forward and don't look behind."

Depth at a number of positions has proven to be an asset for the Tigers, who have played a high number of players in several games.

"We are getting to the point where we are playing more players," Tuberville said. "We have to make sure we get more players into the game because of the long stretch of games before we go to break."

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