Sept. 10, 2005
Final Stats |
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Brandon Cox passed for 202 yards and two first-half touchdowns and Will Herring recovered a fumble for a TD to lead Auburn to a 28-0 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.
The Tigers (1-1, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from a season-opening loss to Georgia Tech with their first league shutout since a 9-0 win over Alabama in 2000.
The Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) have now lost 16 consecutive games against SEC West opponents and even tailback Jerious Norwood couldn't get anything going.
Auburn returned to the formula that resulted in a 13-0 season in 2004: a stingy defense and running the ball to set up the pass instead of the other way around like last week.
The Tigers held Norwood to 39 yards on 10 carries and constantly harried quarterback Omarr Conner.
Cox was nearly perfect in the first half, going 8-of-10 for 132 yards with a 33-yard touchdown to tight end Cole Bennett and a 5-yarder to Devin Aromashodu. He also completed long passes to tailbacks Tre Smith and Kenny Irons, who were largely nonfactors in the opener.
The sophomore's starting debut had turned nightmarish, with four second-half interceptions and a fumble. This time Cox mostly handed off in the second half, finishing 12 of 18 as Auburn managed just 10 yards in the third quarter.
He completed passes of 23 and 38 yards in the fourth quarter. Reserve Brad Lester rushed for a 6-yard TD with 2:03 left to cap the scoring.
The Tigers' running game didn't look all that formidable, managing 118 yards on 41 carries, but it helped control the clock and set Cox up for some big plays.
Conner, meanwhile, was 10 of 19 for 116 yards with an interception after throwing for four touchdowns against Murray State.
Two Bulldog mistakes helped the Tigers take a 21-0 lead midway through the third quarter. Herring recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown after Jonathan Lowe had blundered in calling for a fair catch before fielding Kody Bliss's 60-yard punt at the Mississippi State 6-yard line.
Two plays later, Tee Milons bobbled a screen pass from Omarr Conner. When he got control and tried to run with it, the ball popped loose and bounced into the end zone.
Mississippi State drove into Auburn territory four times, making it as far as the 14 in the first quarter before a sack and penalties pushed the Bulldogs back.
Keith Andrews' 48-yard field goal attempt bounced off the goal post.
Quoting Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
THE MISSISSIPPI STATE GAME
"It was a good start. It was our first conference game. I thought we played well. We were consistent. It is the best defense that I have seen out of us in a while. Our defense adjusted well, and it was a monumental effort. Our offense didn't play as well. We lost our focus. We have a lot of young guys, and we made some mistakes. It was a defensive victory for us today. Our special teams were average. There is a lot of room for improvement. We need to go back and work hard and keep our focus. Our effort was great today. If we keep working hard like this, we will continue to get better. This was a better game than last week with execution and mental errors.
(On Auburn's pass rush): "We got pressure on him (Omarr Conner). Last week and last year when they played well, nobody got in his face. We have a lot of speed on defense and quickness at defensive end. We were just trying to contain him, and it worked. It was a superb game plan by our coaches. We got better defensively. I give our defense an "A" today with the way they played.
"Our offensive guys know that that ball game should have been over early in the third quarter and we just couldn't put them away."
(On playing a lot of people on defense): "We are going to continue to do that. We have a lot of depth. We played a lot of offensive linemen and a lot of defensive linemen. We played a lot of running backs. I am proud of Brad Lester in his first efforts as an Auburn Tiger. We need to get the diapers off of these guys and put their noses in the grindstone and get better. There are some bright spots. The next few weeks we have to get better, and we got better this week.
"Brandon (Cox) had an okay game. It wasn't a real good mental game for us on offense. I was impressed with Mississippi State's defense. They weren't going to let us run the ball. They are much better than they were last year. Sylvester (Croom) is doing a fine job.
"It is always a concern. You have to be able to run it to win. We are a running game by committee in the backfield. You aren't going to be as good as you were last year this early because of experience in your running backs and your quarterback.
(Was the Miss. State game better than the Georgia Tech game?): "I thought we played better offensively most of the time last week. The concentration was better. I thought we held our blocks better this week than last week. They forced us to throw it. We have to be able to run the clock and keep our defense off the field. The first part of the game, we mixed it up well and executed. The second half for the first three or four time outs, I don't think we made a first down. Give a lot of credit to Mississippi State, they hung in there and played hard.
"It is very important. Early in the season if you look at young players in the skill positions, you struggle mentally. We were better today in most areas, but we aren't a team yet that can say we have a team that can get us to Atlanta and that is our goal. We were very physical and played hard.
"This opportunity with two non-conference games will give us a chance to go out and try new things on offense and defense before our next conference game."
(On winning the coin toss and electing to receive): "I don't like playing offense first unless we are forced to. We spent 30 minutes talking about that as a staff. We went all the way back to last spring with the way our defense played on the first series. We would come out flat and on our heels. I think we had 39 plays on offense and their defense was out their 39 plays and ours was out there 22."
QUOTING MISSISSIPPI STATE PLAYERS
THE AUBURN GAME
Omarr Conner, QB
"It wasn't problems with our execution, it was just mistakes we made. I did not put the ball in the right place. I tried to keep poise and stay motivated despite their defense, but we beat ourselves. Even though we made mistakes, we kept our head up.
(On the loss of Jerious Norwood):"Our running game still cooked. Jerious is our leader and it is hard to make up for his loss. One play can make a difference. He's our leader."
Jerious Norwood, RB
(On his injured shoulder): "On the second or third play of the game, I fell on it and I played through it. I wanted to keep playing but after a while the pain was just too great. I have never had an injury like this before, but injuries are part of the game. I just have to get stronger for next week. My backups (Derek Ambrose and Demarcus Johnson) run very hard. They definitely stepped it up for me today, but in the end we beat ourselves."
Derek Ambrose, RB
(On Jerious Norwood's injury): "We feel as though Jerious is our leader. Our objective is to go out with or without him and perform. We have to keep playing hard.
"Hopefully, I made a dent. It is just a matter of Coach Croom feeling confident in me. We have to keep moving forward even without Jerious."
Quinton Culberson, LB
(On defensive play): "I felt we lined up toe-to-toe with a good football team. We had a few busted assignments, but should have come away with a win today."
(On the feeling of losing the game this year as opposed to last year): "Losing this year feels a little better. We have come together as a team, but we still have a long way to go."
Kevin Dockery, DB
"We just tried to do what we emphasize in practice and tried to hit them hard. We got off to a slow start, but we got better as the game went on."
Auburn Game NotesThe pre-game flight today was made by Spirit from the north end zone.
Auburn team captains are OG Tim Duckworth, LB Antarrious Williams and H Matthew Motley.
Auburn won the coin toss and elected to receive. Mississippi State chose to defend the north end zone.
Game attendance was announced at 81,921.
Kickoff was at 11:33 a.m. CT.
Today's pregame flyover featured a T-45C Goshawk, a Navy and Marine Corps pilot trainer for jet carrier aviation and tactical strike missions. The T-45C is capable of flying over Mach 1.0. The crew included: Commander Mike Horsefield (1985 Auburn alum), Lieutenant Commander David Reynolds (1994 Auburn alum and former Aubie mascot), Lieutenant Commander Van Kizer (1995 Auburn alum), Lieutenant Commander J.D. Percival (1992 Auburn alum), Lieutenant Mark Rowland (1998 Auburn alum) and Forward Air Controller Joe Niedermair (1991 Auburn alum).
Auburn vs. Mississippi State
September 10, 2005
TEAM NOTESAuburn is now 40-27-5 all-time in SEC openers. The Tigers have won 13 straight conference openers dating back to 1993.
Auburn now owns a 10-game winning streak in conference games, and has won 11 straight games against SEC opponents including last season's SEC championship game vs. Tennessee.
Auburn now owns a 30-11 SEC record over the past six seasons, which is tied for the most wins of any SEC team during that span.
Auburn now owns a 55-22-2 advantage in the all-time series vs. Mississippi State, and has won five straight and 18 of the last 24 meetings with the Bulldogs.
Auburn now owns a 244-60-7 record in 66 years of football at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Tigers are 30-6 at Jordan-Hare over the past six seasons.
Auburn is now 104-44-5 all-time in the month of September, including a 21-5 mark under Tommy Tuberville.
Auburn is now 46-4 under Tommy Tuberville when scoring 20 or more points.
Auburn is now 33-0 under Tommy Tuverville when scoring 30 or more points.
Auburn posted its first shutout since a 31-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in the 2004 season opener. It was the first time the Tigers shut out an SEC opponent since a 9-0 win at Alabama in the 2000 Iron Bowl.
In the last two meetings with Mississippi State, Auburn now has six touchdown passes. In the previous seven meetings from 1997-2003, Auburn had just six touchdown passes.
In Auburn's first game of the season, wide receivers had 17 receptions while Cooper Wallace had the only catch by a tight end. Today, Wallace (3) and Cole Bennett (2) combined for five catches, while Auburn's wideouts had four total catches.
Auburn's second touchdown drive started and ended with passing plays, and in between, included 11 straight rushes.
INDIVIDUAL NOTES Kenny Irons' 23-yard reception on the opening drive was his second reception of over 20 yards against Mississippi State during his collegiate career. As a freshman at South Carolina in 2002, Irons had a 30-yard touchdown reception vs. the Bulldogs.
Cole Bennett's 33-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was the longest reception of his career. His previous long was a 20-yard catch in 2003 against Western Kentucky. It was his second career touchdown catch and third career touchdown scored.
Wayne Dickens' sack in the first quarter was the second sack of his career. His previous sack came last season vs. Ole Miss.
Marquies Gunn was credited with a sack for forcing an intentional grounding call in the opening period. Gunn now has 4.5 career sacks.
Devin Aromashodu's five-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter was the seventh touchdown catch of his career. It was also the first reception of the game by an Auburn wide receiver and snapped a string of 11 straight rushes on Auburn's 13-play drive.
Auburn recorded sacks on consecutive plays in the second quarter. Travis Williams and Will Herring shared the first sack, while Christopher Browder followed with his second career sack.
Tre Smith's 38-yard reception in the second quarter was the second longest of his career. His best is a 40-yard catch in 2002 against Louisiana-Monroe.
Eric Brock's third-quarter interception was the second of his career. His first also came vs. Mississippi State, last season in Starkville.
Kody Bliss' 61-yard punt in the third quarter equaled the second-longest punt of his career. It was his fourth career punt of at least 60 yards.
Will Herring's fumble recovery for a touchdown in the third quarter was the first defensive touchdown by Auburn since Carlos Rogers returned an interception 53 yards for a score vs. Louisiana Tech last season. It was the first Tiger fumble return for a TD since Spencer Johnson scored from 27 yards out against Vanderbilt in 2002. It was Herring's second career fumble recovery.
Eric Brock had six tackles today, matching his output from the entire 2004 season.
Freshman WR Robert Dunn's 23-yard reception was the first of his career.
Redshirt freshman WR Rodgeriqus Smith's 38-yard reception in the fourth quarter was also the first of his career and immediately followed Dunn's reception.
QB Brandon Cox threw to nine different receivers during the game.
RB Brad Lester's 22-yard carry in the fourth quarter is the longest of his career. His previous high was 11 yards against The Citadel in 2004.
RB Brad Lester's fourth quarter rushing touchdown was the first touchdown of his career.