Aug. 24, 2008
Complete Game Notes in PDF Format
Auburn begins its 116th year of football as it hosts Louisiana-Monroe in the seventh all-time meeting between the two schools. The game, which is the season opener for both schools, begins at 6 p.m. CT.
* Auburn has an 88-25-2 record in season-opening games. Auburn has won 17 of its last 22 openers, and has a 6-3 mark under head coach Tommy Tuberville with two straight wins.
* Auburn's 88 season-opening victories is just one win behind Alabama for the most among the 12 Southeastern Conference schools.
* Auburn enters the season ranked 10th in the Associated Press preseason top 25 poll and 11th in the USA Today coaches preseason poll. It marks the sixth straight season that Auburn has been nationally-ranked in the preseason polls, and the third time with a top-10 AP ranking.
* Auburn has never lost to any of the current members of the Sun Belt Conference with a 13-0 record. * Auburn returns more than 80 percent of its rushing, receiving and all-purpose yards from last season, as well as more than 90 percent of its scoring.
* Entering its 68th year as home to the Auburn football team, Jordan-Hare Stadium is the nation's ninth-largest on-campus stadium with a capacity of 87,451 fans. The Tigers are 261-64-7 (.797) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 47-10 (.825) mark in the last seven years.
* Auburn is 14-2 in home night games since the 2000 season, including victories over four nationally-ranked teams.
* Auburn will surpass the 20 million mark in all-time total attendance at Jordan-Hare Stadium during the game against Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers have drawn 19,986,213 fans in 68 seasons at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
* Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 44-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 49 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
* Auburn is 3-2 all-time in the month of August, and has not played a game in August since the 2003 season opener against Southern Cal.
* Auburn has scored in 63 consecutive games since being shut out in the 2003 season opener.
* Tommy Tuberville enters his 10th season at Auburn in 2008 and his 14th as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Tuberville has the third-longest tenure in the SEC behind Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, both of whom are in their 16th season in the SEC.
AUBURN IN OPENERS
Auburn has an 88-25-2 record in season-opening games. The Tigers have won two straight season openers after dropping three of their previous four. Auburn beat Kansas State last year, 23-13, and earned a 40-14 victory over Washington State in 2006. The Tigers' last loss in a season opener was a 23-14 decision against Georgia Tech in 2005. Auburn earned a 31-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 2004.
Auburn has won 17 of its last 22 season openers, and owns a 6-3 mark under head coach Tommy Tuberville.
Since 1977, Auburn is 21-5 in season openers against non-conference opponents. In 113 years of football at Auburn, the Tigers are 51-15 when opening the season versus non-conference foes.
OPENING W's TIED FOR SECOND IN SEC
Auburn's total of 88 season-opening victories is just one behind Alabama for the best among the 12 Southeastern Conference Schools.
The Tigers are tied with Arkansas for second, followed by Georgia with 87 wins in season openers. Ole Miss is next with 84, followed by Tennessee (82), LSU (81), Kentucky (78), Mississippi State, South Carolina and Florida (74) and Vanderbilt (65).
LOUISIANA-MONROE QUICK HITTERS
Head coach Charlie Weatherbie is in his sixth season as head coach at ULM ... Last season's 6-6 finish marked ULM's first bowl-eligible season since the school became a I-A school in 1994 ... ULM returns 15 starters, including seven on offense, six on defense and two specialists ... The Warhawks were picked to finish sixth in the Sun Belt preseason coaches poll ... Tight end Zeek Zacharie was named to the Mackey Award preseason watch list ... Zacharie, defensive back Greg James and punter Scott Love were all named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Team ... Senior quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster is in his third season as a starter for ULM, and passed for 1,866 yards last year while adding 398 yards on the ground ... The Warhawks return three players who started at linebacker last year while helping the team lead the Sun Belt in rushing defense ... ULM snapped a 25-game losing streak to SEC schools with a 21-14 win at Alabama last season.
ULM has five players on its roster from the state of Alabama: LB Ken Dorsey (Homewood), WR Anthony McCall (Montgomery), DE Anthony Montgomery (Adamsville), DB Jonathan Price (Fairfield) and QB Cody Wells (Hoover).
AUBURN-ULM SERIES HISTORY
Auburn and Louisiana-Monroe will be meeting for the seventh time, with all seven games being played in Jordan-Hare Stadium since 1994. Auburn has won the six previous games by an average score of 44-12, which also happens to be the exact score of the first meeting in 1994. The closest game was a 28-24 decision in 1996, while Auburn's 73-7 victory in 2003 is tied for the largest margin of victory in Jordan-Hare Stadium history.
AGAINST THE SUN BELT
Auburn has played five of the nine teams currently in the Sun Belt Conference at least once, and has never lost, with a 13-0 record.
Nearly half of the 13 games have been played against Louisiana-Monroe, with Auburn holding a 6-0 record against the Warhawks. The Tigers are 4-0 against Louisiana-Lafayette, 2-0 against Western Kentucky and have one win each against Arkansas State and North Texas.
IN THE POLLS
For the sixth consecutive year, Auburn is nationally ranked to begin the season. The Tigers are 10th in the Associated Press preseason poll, and 11th in the preseason USA Today coaches poll.
It is the first time since the 1986-91 seasons that Auburn has been ranked at the start of six consecutive seasons. The Tigers are also ranked in the top 10 of the AP Preseason Poll for the third time since 2003. The Tigers were the preseason No. 6 team in 2003 and ranked No. 4 in the initial 2006 poll.
Now in its 69th year as home to the Auburn football team, Jordan-Hare Stadium is the nation's ninth-largest on-campus stadium, with a capacity of 87,451 fans. The Tigers are 261-64-7 (.797) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 47-10 (.825) mark in the previous eight years. AU went 7-0 at home in both 2000 and 2004, and posted a 6-1 mark in 2005.
UNDER THE LIGHTS AT JORDAN-HARE
Auburn has been tough to beat in night games at Jordan-Hare Stadium in recent seasons, accumulating a record of 14-2 since the 2000 season in home games starting at 6 p.m. or later. That stretch includes a 4-0 record against ranked opponents, with wins over No. 1 Florida in 2001, No. 2 Florida in 2006, No. 7 Tennessee in 2003 and No. 14 Georgia in 2000. The Tigers currently own a two-game winning streak in home night games.
TWENTY MILLION MARK
Auburn will surpass the 20 million mark in all-time total attendance at Jordan-Hare Stadium during the game against Louisiana-Monroe. Entering the season opener, the Tigers have drawn 19,986,213 fans in 68 seasons at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Interestingly, it took 51 seasons for Auburn to draw its first 10 million fans, but will take just 18 more to draw the second 10 million. The Tigers surpassed 10 million fans during the fourth home game of the 1990 season - a 56-6 victory over Vanderbilt on Oct. 13.
ON THIS DATE
Auburn has only played once previously on Aug. 30, falling to Southern Cal in the 2003 opener at Jordan-Hare Stadium, 23-0. That game marked the last time the Tigers have played on any date during the month of August. IN AUGUST
Auburn is 3-2 all-time in games played in August, including the last August game against USC. The Tigers' first August opener was on Aug. 28, 1984, when Auburn lost to Miami (Fla.), 20-18, in the Kickoff Classic in East Rutherford, N.J. The Tigers have played on Aug. 31 three times, winning home games against Georgia Southern (32-17) in 1991, UAB (29-0) in 1996 and Wyoming (35-21) in 2000.
OPENING DAY SUPERLATIVES
Auburn has had numerous outstanding individual and team performances in season-opening games. Bo Jackson's 290 rushing yards versus SW Louisiana in 1985 and Alexander Wright's 263 receiving yards in 1989 against Pacific are the best season-opening performances by an SEC player.
The Tigers' 565 rushing yards and 695 yards of total offense against SW Louisiana in the 1985 opener are school single-season records.
Listed are Auburn's individual and team season-opening best performances.
Rushing 290 yds, Bo Jackson, vs. SW Louisiana (9/7/85) [SEC Opening-game record]
Passing 372 yds, Patrick Nix (28-of-39, 1 TD), vs. Ole Miss (9/2/95)
Receiving 263 yds, Alexander Wright, vs. Pacific (9/9/89) [SEC Opening-game record]
Total Offense 369 yds, Patrick Nix, vs. Ole Miss (9/2/95)
Rush Play 84 yds., Lionel James, vs. Southern Miss (9/10/83)
Pass Play 78 yds., Reggie Slack to Alexander Wright vs. Pacific (9/9/89)
Points 61, vs. Birmingham Southern (9/23/32)
Margin of Victory 61, vs. Birmingham Southern (61-0) (9/23/32)
Passing 373 yds, vs. Ole Miss (9/2/95)
Rushing 565 yds, vs. SW Louisiana (58 att.) (9/7/85) [School Record]
Total Offense 695 yds, vs. SW Louisiana (565 rush, 130 pass, 76 plays) (9/7/85) [School Record]
TUBERVILLE IN TENTH SEASON
Tommy Tuberville enters his tenth season at Auburn in 2008 and his 14th as a head coach in the Southeastern Conference. Tuberville has the third-longest tenure in the SEC (second-longest active streak) behind Phillip Fulmer of Tennessee and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina, who will each coach his 16th season in the league this year.
Tuberville has amassed a record of 80-33 in nine previous seasons at Auburn and an overall mark of 105-53. He has led the Tigers to eight straight bowl appearances.
Tuberville is fourth all-time at Auburn in wins, and is the fourth-longest tenured coach in school history.
NEW LOOKS ON "O" AND "D"
Both the Auburn offense and defense will have new looks this season, as the Tigers have new offensive and defensive coordinators. Tony Franklin joined the squad as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach prior to the Chick-fil-A Bowl last season, and in just eight practices, installed a portion of his spread offense and helped Auburn amass 423 yards of offense on 90 plays during a 23-20 overtime victory over Clemson.
Paul Rhoads joined the staff as defensive coordinator/secondary coach in January after eight seasons in that position at Pittsburgh. His Panthers ranked fifth nationally in total defense (297.7) and third in pass defense (167.3) in 2007.
OFFENSE BY THE NUMBERS
Auburn's offense will need to fill the void left by three-year starting quarterback Brandon Cox, but the Tigers still return nearly all of their leading rushers and receivers, as well as players responsible for more than 90 percent of their points scored in 2007.
Category 2007 Returning Percent
Passing Yards 2,317 145 6.3%
Rushing Yards 2,040 2,099 102.9%
Receptions 204 168 82.4%
Receiving Yards 2,317 1,873 80.8%
Scoring 315 1284 90.2%
Touchdowns 38 33 86.8%
Total Offense 4,357 2,244 51.5%
All-Purpose Yards 5,809 5,087 87.6%
OFFENSIVE LINE RETURNS INTACT
The offensive line was a concern for Auburn entering the 2007 season after the Tigers lost four senior starters from the 2006 squad. But three true freshmen joined a pair of juniors in the starting lineup beginning with the season's fourth game, and the Tigers went on to win eight of their last 10 contests. Inexperience is far from an issue this season as the entire group returns for 2008, although sophomore guard Chaz Ramsey has been battling a back injury. Senior center Jason Bosley and senior guard Tyronne Green anchor the group after starting every game last year, while sophomore Lee Ziemba switches from right tackle to left tackle after also staring every game in 2007 as a true freshmen. Sophomore Ryan Pugh, who started the final 10 games last year, will switch from left to right tackle, and junior Byron Isom appears poised to move into the other guard slot if Ramsey is unable to start.
RUNNING BACK U.
Auburn looks to continue its tradition of producing high-caliber running backs, as the top four ground gainers from last season return in 2008. Junior Ben Tate led the team with 903 yards rushing, while senior Brad Lester had 530 yards in just seven games for a team-leading average of 75.7 per contest. Sophomore Mario Fannin switched to wide receiver after totaling 448 yards on the ground last year, while sophomore quarterback Kodi Burns added 203 yards rushing.
Lester enters his senior season with 1,400 career rushing yards, ranking 24th in Auburn history, while Tate has 1,295 yards in his first two seasons, ranking him 28th. They are the first pair of Auburn running backs to enter a season with more than 1,000 yards rushing each since Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown in 2004.
GONE ON D
Defensively in 2007, Auburn must replace four starters from last year's squad that led the SEC and ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (16.9), including two interior linemen and two members of the secondary. Defensive tackles Josh Thompson and Pat Sims combined for 104 tackles including 16 for losses, while safety Eric Brock and cornerback Patrick Lee ranked fifth and sixth on the team with 59 and 55 tackles, respectively. In addition, NFL draft picks Quentin Groves and Jonathan Wilhite were seniors in 2007.
However, three of the top four leading tacklers return in sophomore safety Zac Etheridge (65), senior linebacker Chris Evans (64) and junior cornerback Jerraud Powers (63). Powers also shared the team lead with four interceptions.
Other key returners include juniors Antonio Coleman and Sen'Derrick Marks on the defensive line. Coleman had team highs of 18.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, while Marks has been named to several preseason All-America teams.
Other returning starters are junior linebacker Tray Blackmon and sophomore linebacker Craig Stevens.
In addition to ranking sixth in the nation in scoring defense, the 2007 Auburn defense also ranked sixth nationally in total defense (297.9) and pass defense (173.2).
AUBURN BY THE NUMBERS
The Tigers return 46 lettermen from last season, including 22 on offense, 20 on defense and four specialists. Auburn returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense.
Auburn's current roster of 113 players includes 16 seniors, 18 juniors, 35 sophomores, 15 redshirt freshmen and 29 freshmen. The underclassmen (79) represent 69.9 percent of the Tigers' roster.
A number of walk-ons joined the program after the first day of classes on August 18.
YOUNG STABLE OF KICKERS
Auburn had a pair of true freshmen handling most of the kicking duties last season, and the results were outstanding. Punter Ryan Shoemaker ranked second in the SEC and 16th nationally with an average of 42.4 yards per kick while earning second-team All-SEC honors, and was a first-team preseason All-SEC selection by the league's coaches and media. Kicker Wes Byrum led Auburn in scoring with 86 points, including 17 field goals which is tied for third most in a single season in school history, and made game-winning field goals in the closing seconds at Florida and at Arkansas.
In addition, sophomore Patrick Tatum averaged 43.4 yards on 16 punts while Shoemaker was out with an injury, and sophomore Morgan Hull also handled the kickoff duties part-time last season. Redshirt freshmen Clinton Durst was the Special Teams MVP of the A-Day game March 29 after averaging 48.3 yards on three punts.
14 AND COUNTING
In his 14th year as a head coach, Tommy Tuberville has five assistant coaches who have been with him all 14 years. That group includes: defensive tackles coach Don Dunn, running backs/special teams coach Eddie Gran, wide receivers coach Greg Knox, offensive line coach Hugh Nall and defensive ends coach Terry Price.
THE SENIOR CLASS
Head Coach Tommy Tuberville has a senior class that includes 16 players at Auburn in 2008. The Tigers' group of 16 seniors is the fourth most during the Tuberville era. The largest group of seniors was 21 in 2006, while the 2004 group had 18 and last year's squad had 17. During Tuberville's tenure, Auburn's other senior classes have consisted of: 15 in 2005, 13 in 2003, 15 in 2002, 10 in 2001, 14 in 2000 and 14 in 1999.
The 2008 seniors include: C Jason Bosley, RB Tristan Davis, DT Tez Doolittle, WR Robert Dunn, LB Chris Evans, OL Tyronne Green, LB Courtney Harden, TE Bryan Harris, FB Ryan Hastie, LB Merrill Johnson, RB Brad Lester, WR Charles Olatunji, DS Robert Shiver, WR Rodgeriqus Smith, WR James Swinton and DB Jonathan Vickers.
GOING FOR SIX
The 2008 season will mark the third straight year that Auburn has had a sixth-year senior on the squad due to injury. Tez Doolittle is back for his second stint as a senior after missing last year with an achilles injury. In 2007, Cole Bennett was a sixth-year senior after breaking his ankle during the third game of the 2006 season. David Irons was granted a sixth year of eligibility for 2006 after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 2004 preseason.
Of Auburn's 16 seniors, six have seen time in at least 30 games during their careers. Courtney Harden leads the group, having played in 34 of a possible 38 games over the past three seasons, and is followed closely by Merrill Johnson (33), Rodgeriqus Smith (33), Robert Dunn (32), Tyronne Green (30) and Brad Lester (30). Green, Smith and Robert Shiver are the only three members of the senior class to have played in all 26 games over the past two seasons.
Senior Rodgeriqus Smith and junior Sen'Derrick Marks enter the 2008 season with the longest staring streaks on the squad, as both players have started all 26 games over the past two seasons. No other player has a starting streak that dates back to the 2006 season.
Four other players return for the 2008 season after starting all 13 games last year. Seniors Jason Bosley and Tyronne Green, junior Jerraud Powers and sophomore Lee Ziemba all started every game last season.
A number of players have changed positions from last year entering the 2008 season.
Junior Sen'Derrick Marks moved back to defensive tackle, where he started all 13 games as a freshman before starting every game as a defensive end last year.
Sophomore Mario Fannin, who played running back last season, will split out as a wide receiver in Auburn's new spread offense this year.
Sophomore tackles Lee Ziemba and Ryan Pugh switched spots on the offensive line, with Pugh moving to the right side and Ziemba to the left.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES
Auburn has had a knack for winning close ball games since Tommy Tuberville arrived as the Tigers' head coach. In his previous nine seasons at the helm, Auburn is 28-13 in games decided by seven points or less and has won 16 of its last 21.
NO SHUTOUTS ALLOWED
Auburn has scored in 63 consecutive games, which is the second-longest streak in school history. The Tigers have not been shut out since a 23-0 loss to USC to open the 2003 season. It will be a while before Auburn could challenge the school record. The Tigers scored in 149 straight games from Oct. 4, 1980 through Nov. 14, 1992.
FIFTH-YEAR SENIORS GO FOR NEW MARK
Auburn's group of fifth-year seniors has a chance to match last year's fifth-year seniors as the only classes to win 50 games in five years. With 42 wins in the previous four seasons, the Tigers need eight wins to reach 50 victories over the past five seasons, and nine wins to surpass that class as the winningest five-year class in school history. Members of the squad that have been at Auburn since 2004 are Tristan Davis, Tez Doolittle, Tyronne Green, Courtney Harden, Merrill Johnson, Brad Lester, James Swinton and Jonathan Vickers.
Auburn begins the season with eight graduates on the roster.
The Tiger graduates include: OL Jason Bosley (finance), RB Tristan Davis (criminology), DL Tez Doolittle (criminology), OL Tyronne Green (criminology), LB Courtney Harden (criminology), LB Merrill Johnson (criminology), WR Rodgeriqus Smith (business administration) and WR James Swinton (public administration).
Auburn has demonstrated a proficiency for placing players in the National Football League. As of Aug. 20, 44 former Auburn Tigers were listed on NFL rosters. The Seattle Seahawks have the most former Tigers, with five former Auburn players on the roster, while the Washington Redskins have four. Twenty-seven of the 32 teams had at least one former Auburn player on the roster.
WHEN SCORING 20+ POINTS
Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 66-7 when scoring 20 or more points in a game, including a 63-6 mark in the regular season. Dating back to 1995, Auburn is 87-14 when scoring 20 or more points in a game.
30+ POINTS EQUALS VICTORY
Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 44-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 49 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points.
The last time the Tigers lost when registering at least 30 points was a 56-49, four overtime loss to Georgia in 1996.
In the last 23 years, Auburn is 118-2 when scoring 30 points.
TIGERS ON CSS
Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) will broadcast encore presentations of Auburn football every Sunday at 6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT with Andy Burcham handling play-by-play duties and Cole Cubelic doing color commentary. CSS will also air the Auburn Football Review every Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. CT and the Auburn Football Preview every Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT.
CSS is a 24-hour regional sports network serving approximately 5.8 million households across 12 Southeastern states.