Perhaps LSU’s biggest rival, the
Auburn-LSU match-up has had its share of memorable moments.
Few rivalries in college football
have had as many “named games” as the annual Tiger fight. Fans of both teams
remember “The Interception Game”, “The Earthquake Game,” “The Night the Barn
Burned Game”, “The Cecil Collins Game,” “The Bring Back the Magic Game,” the
“The Cigar Game in 1999,” or “The Night the Band Battled the Kicker Game” of
LSU leads the overall series
19-17-1, but Auburn has won four out of the last six meetings against the
Tigers, including a 31-7 victory over 10th-ranked LSU last season. Playing
without running back Carnell “Cadillac” Williams, Auburn still managed to
dominate the Tigers on the ground, rushing for 216 yards on 45 carries. Tiger
quarterback Marcus Randall was horribly ineffective against the Auburn defense,
going 9-of-20 for 79 yards with four interceptions.
The offensive game plan has not
changed for Tommy Tuberville’s squad this season. Auburn relies on a power
rushing attack to take the pressure off quarterback Jason Campbell. Lately, the
Aubies have been quite successful in executing their plan.
Relying on a trio of big, strong
running backs, Auburn is averaging 202.3 yards a game on the ground and an
amazing 4.4 yards a carry. To-date, 18 of Auburn’s 23 offensive touchdowns have
come via the run.
Williams is the leader of the
Auburn ground assault. The junior out of Attalla, Ala. has rushed for 713 yards
on 138 carries for 10 touchdowns, six of which he scored in a 45-13 defeat of
Mississippi State last week. The Cadillac is also averaging 22.8 yards on six
kickoff returns this season.
A multiple-time SEC Offensive
Player of the Week, Williams will face LSU for the first time in his career.
Williams’ 2001 season ended with a broken left clavicle against Alabama. In
2002, a fractured left fibula ended the season abruptly. Both injuries were
suffered before the Auburn-LSU contest.
While Williams has been the
workhorse of the Auburn rushing attack, Napoleonville, La. native Brandon Jacobs
has had a solid season as well. The 6-4, 257-pounder has 382 yards on 61 carries
and has scored a touchdown. Junior Ronnie Brown had an excellent game last
season against the Tigers, rushing for 95 yards on eight carries with two
With the running attack being the
strength of the Auburn offense, Tuberville and his staff have not had to rely on
quarterback Jason Campbell to win games for them, rather just not lose them.
Campbell has had a solid season at the helm for Auburn, going 89-of-145 for 1127
yards and five touchdowns, compared to only three interceptions.
The junior from Taylorsville, Miss.
has been an accurate passer throughout his career. He has completed 61.4-precent
of his passes this season while posting a 62.9-percent career mark, which ranks
first in the Auburn record books.
Campbell’s favorite target has been
Jeris McIntyre (6-0, 207). The senior from Tampa, Fla. is Auburn’s leading
receiver catching 20 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman
Courtney Taylor (6-2, 192) has also hauled in 20 catches for 204
Returning four of five starters on
the offensive line, the Auburn front is loaded with experience - and very big.
Left tackle Mark Pera (6-6, 312),
left guard Troy Reddick (6-5, 297), center Danny Lindsey (6-2, 300), right guard
Monreko Crittenden (6-5, 350), and right tackle Marcus McNeil (6-9, 329) have
been the catalyst for the prolific Auburn rushing attack.
The enormous Crittenden was named a
preseason second-team all-American by The Sporting News while McNeil is coming
off a freshman season in which he was named to the SEC All-Freshman team by
conference coaches as well as TSN.
Running a base 4-3 defense,
defensive coordinator Gene Chizik’s squad is giving up just 277.7 yards of
offense a game and a minuscule 12.4 points per outing. Auburn has nearly been
impossible to run on this season, giving up 92.6 yards a game and holding
opponents to under three yards a carry.
Senior nose tackle DeMarco McNeil
(6-2, 300) leads a heralded Auburn defensive line. He has 30 tackles for the
season and leads the team in forced fumbles and fumble recoveries with
With three of the four top tacklers
on the team, the linebackers are the strength of the Auburn defense. Pre-season
all-American Karlos Dansby (6-5, 235) has lived up to expectations so far,
leading the team in tackles with 47 and sacks with four. Dansby had a career day
against the Tigers in 2002, intercepting two passes and collecting eight tackles
en route to being named SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
Another senior, Dontarrious Thomas
(6-4, 238) has also had an outstanding 2003 season. Moved from weakside
linebacker to the middle during the spring, Thomas has responded with 41
tackles, including five for losses and four quarterback hurries.
Rounding out the linebackers for
Auburn is Travis Williams. The youngster of the group, the sophomore from
Columbia, S.C. has 27 tackles on the season and is second on the team with three
The Tigers’ secondary has limited
opponents to 185.1 yards a game through the air and only six touchdowns. Junior
safety Junior Rosegreen (6-0, 185) is the top tackler in the Auburn secondary,
collecting 21 tackles and is responsible for breaking up four passes this
While junior cornerback Kevin Hobbs
(6-0, 179) may only have 15 tackles on the season, he has made his presence felt
in several other ways. Hobbs leads the team with two interceptions and is tied
for the team lead with four pass break-ups.
Having to replace all-everything
Damon Duval on special teams, Auburn relies on a duo of players at place-kicker
as well as punter.
True freshman John Vaughn has
handled the short to mid-range field goals this season and has converted 4-of-8
attempts thus far. Junior Philip Yost handles the long field goals for Auburn
and is 2-for-2 on the season with a long of 57 yards against Western
Another true freshman in Kody Bliss
has handled the majority of the punting duties this season for Auburn. Punting
33 times, the Tennessee native is averaging 41.3 yards per kick with a long of
60 yards. Bliss has been a lethal weapon for the Auburn defense with 11 of his
33 punts pinning opposing offenses inside their own 20-yard line. Redshirt
freshman Michael Gibson has four punts this season and is averaging 32.8 yards
Perhaps the biggest weakness for
Auburn has been their return game. Auburn has failed to gain hardly any
significant yardage on kickoff and punt returns. Sophomore running back Tre Smith, a fourth string running back, handles a majority of the return duties for
the Tigers. He is averaging just 9.5 yards a punt return and 17.2 yards per
Smith did have a career day against
LSU last season as he rushed for 80 yards on only 11 carries and had a