Tigers finally roaring

First, Tommy Tuberville had to find some tailbacks. Then he had to locate some quality offensive linemen. Then he had to develop a decent quarterback. Next, he found some receiving threats. Finally, he brought in an offensive coordinator to blend all of the parts into a working system.

Now, six years into his tenure at Auburn, Tuberville finally has all of the ingredients in place for a potent attack. That's why the Tigers are 4-0 heading into Saturday night's showdown with Tennessee.

''When I got here six seasons ago, I understood -- being at Ole Miss for a few years -- that you had to have a running game in this conference to be consistent. You can win some games (without a ground game) but to possibly win championships you've got to be able to run the football.

''The first year we didn't have a running back, so we went out and recruited Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown.... Then we tried to recruit offensive linemen and teach them that being physical is the No. 1 thing you're going to have to do for Auburn.''

With great backs and a powerful line, Auburn's running game was potentially awesome. The problem was, without a passing attack to complement it, the Tigers routinely faced defenses that massed to stop the run.

''Obviously, you've got to be able to throw the football some,'' Tuberville said. ''Last year we saw numerous games where people said, 'You're going to have to throw it to beat us,' and we weren't able to be consistent throwing the ball when we needed to.''

Thanks to the emergence of senior quarterback Jason Campbell and some capable receiving threats, plus the arrival of new offensive coordinator Al Borges, Auburn finally has a passing game capable of taking some heat off its ground game. The result is a more balanced, less predictable offense.

''That's the biggest difference this year,'' Tuberville said. ''The running game is there but we're also able to get the ball down the field to receivers who've grown up in the last couple of years and been able to make more plays.''

Campbell, who has 31 starts to his credit, is playing the best football of his career now that he has decent protection, some quality wideouts and a system that fits his skills.

''I'm proud of Jason and what he's done,'' Tuberville said. ''We played with a short deck around here for a few years. We were a little short on the offensive line and at wide receiver, and he's had to make up for those deficiencies. He's done a good job.

''He's a tough quarterback mentally. It's very seldom that he loses his composure. Two weeks ago (in a 10-9 defeat of LSU) he played his best game as an Auburn Tiger. It wasn't pretty but he made some plays. With his athletic ability, we've got to use it to the fullest.''


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