Auburn Vs. Kansas State Preview


Aug. 26, 2007

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#18/14 AUBURN (0-0) VS. KANSAS STATE (0-0)
SEPTEMBER 1, 2007 • 6:45 PM CT • TV: ESPN


Tommy Tuberville (Southern Arkansas, 1976)
Auburn Record 71-29 (9th year)
 vs. Kansas State First meeting
Overall Record 96-49 (13th year)
 vs. Kansas State First meeting

Ron Prince (Appalachian State, 1992)
Kansas State Record  7-6  (2nd year)
Overall Record Same

AU leads, 2-0
 at Auburn AU leads, 1-0
 at Manhattan AU leads, 1-0
Last Meeting AU 26, KSU 18
  Sept. 15, 1979 in Auburn, AL
Current Streak Auburn won last two

Auburn 18th AP/14th USA Today
Kansas State NR AP/RV USA Today

ESPN (Live)
Play-by-play Ron Franklin
Analyst Ed Cunningham
Sidelines Holly Rowe

The Auburn Network provides radio coverage to over 50 stations that cover the Southeast. Rod Bramblett (play-by-play), Stan White (color), Quentin Riggins (sideline), Paul Ellen (studio) and Andy Burcham (locker room) provide gameday analysis.


ESPN Radio (Live)
Play-by-play Dave Barnett
Analyst Rod Gilmore
Sidelines Joe Schad

Live audio & stats

 Auburn begins its 115th year of football as it hosts Kansas State in just the third ever meeting between the two schools and the first since 1979. The game, which is the season opener for both schools, will be broadcast nationally on ESPN at 6:45 p.m. CT.

* Auburn has an 87-25-2 record in season-opening games. Auburn has won 16 of its last 21 season openers, and has a 5-3 mark under head coach Tommy Tuberville.

* Auburn's 87 season-opening victories is just one win behind Alabama for the most among the 12 Southeastern Conference schools.

* The game against Kansas State will be Auburn's second in a row against a Big 12 opponent after the Tigers beat Nebraska, 17-14, in the 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

* Auburn enters the season ranked 18th in the Associated Press preseason top 25 poll and 14th in the USA Today coaches preseason poll. It marks the fifth straight season that Auburn has been nationally-ranked in the preseason polls.

* Auburn has posted a 33-5 record over the past three seasons, which is tied for the third-best record in NCAA Bowl Subdivision during that span.

* 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 255-62-7 (.798) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 41-8 (.837) mark in the last seven years. Auburn has had two undefeated home seasons in the last six years (7-0 in 2000 and 2004).

* Auburn is 11-1 in home night games since the 2000 season, including victories over four nationally-ranked teams.

* DE Quentin Groves needs just three more sacks to equal the Auburn career record of 26 held by Gerald Robinson (1982-85).

* Brandon Cox enters his third season as Auburn's starting quarterback. He currently has the team's longest active starts streak, having started 21 consecutive games.

* Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 41-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game.  Auburn has won 46 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game.

* Auburn is 138-44-5 (.751) all-time in the month of September, including a 28-5 mark under Tommy Tuberville. The Tigers have won eight straight games in the month of September.

* Tommy Tuberville enters his ninth season at Auburn in 2007 and his 13th 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 15th season in the SEC.

 Auburn has an 87-25-2 record in season-opening games, but the opener has proved troublesome for Auburn lately, as the Tigers have dropped three of their last five. Auburn did beat Washington State last year, 40-14, but fell at home to Georgia Tech, 23-14, in the 2005 season opener, and the Tigers were twice beaten by Southern California -- 24-17 in 2002 at USC and 23-0 in 2003 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The other victory during that span was a 31-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 2004.
 Still, Auburn has won 16 of its last 21 season openers, and owns a 5-3 mark under head coach Tommy Tuberville.

 Since 1977, Auburn is 20-5 in season openers against non-conference opponents. In 112 years of football at Auburn, the Tigers are 50-15 when opening the season versus non-conference foes.

 Auburn's total of 87 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 86 wins in season openers. Ole Miss is next with 83, followed by Tennessee (82), LSU (80), Kentucky (77), Mississippi State (74), South Carolina and Florida (73) and Vanderbilt (64).

 Auburn and Kansas State met in consecutive season openers in 1978 and 1979 in the only two previous encounters between the two teams. The first contest was played in Manhattan, with Auburn earning a 45-32 victory. The following year in Auburn, the Tigers used a 26-18 victory as a springboard to an 8-3 season.

 Auburn has played 10 of the 12 teams currently in the Big 12 at least once, and owns a 10-15-1 record in those games. However, Auburn's victory over Nebraska in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic was the Tigers' first meeting with a Big 12 school since a 14-10 win at Texas in 1991.

Texas has been Auburn's most common Big 12 opponent, as the teams have met eight times with the Longhorns holding a 5-3 lead in the series. Auburn has also played games against Baylor (BU leads series 2-1-1), Colorado (AU leads 1-0), Kansas (AU leads 2-0), Kansas State (AU leads 2-0), Missouri (MU leads 1-0), Nebraska (NU leads 3-1), Oklahoma (OU leads 1-0), Texas A&M (A&M leads 2-0) and Texas Tech (TTU leads 1-0).

 The 2007 Cotton Bowl match-up against Nebraska was Tommy Tuberville's first game against a Big 12 opponent as a head coach. However, during Tuberville's stint as an assistant coach at Miami, the Hurricanes played in four bowl games against Big 12 schools, winning all four. Miami beat Oklahoma in the 1988 Orange Bowl (20-14), Nebraska in the 1989 (23-3) and 1992 (22-0) Orange Bowls and Texas in the 1991 Cotton Bowl (46-3).

 For the fifth consecutive year, Auburn is nationally ranked to begin the season. The Tigers are 18th in the Associated Press preseason poll, and 14th in the preseason USA Today coaches poll.

It is the first time since the 1994-98 seasons that Auburn has been ranked at the start of five consecutive seasons.

 Auburn may have the toughest road schedule of any team in the country this year, as the Tigers' four road opponents are all ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, including two in the top six. Auburn opens its road schedule at No. 3 Florida Sept. 29, plays at No. 20 Arkansas and No. 2 LSU in back-to-back weeks Oct. 13 and 20 and finishes the road schedule at No. 13 Georgia. Only two other teams (South Carolina and Oklahoma State) plays four road games against nationally-ranked teams, and the combined rankings of Auburn's four opponents is the lowest of the three teams.

Auburn               South Carolina        Oklahoma State
@ No. 2 LSU          @ No. 2 LSU           @ No. 8 Oklahoma 
@ No. 6 Florida      @ No. 13 Georgia      @ No. 13 Georgia
@ No. 13 Georgia     @ No. 15 Tennessee    @ No. 20 Nebraska 
@ No. 21 Arkansas    @ No. 21 Arkansas     @ No. 25 Texas A&M 
Avg. = 10.5          Avg. = 12.8           Avg. = 16.5

 Auburn posted a record of 33-5 (.868) over the previous three seasons, tying the Tigers for the third-best record in the NCAA since the 2004 season. Only USC (36-3, .923) and Texas (34-4, .895) have better winning percentages than Auburn during that span, while Boise State has an identical 33-5 mark.

 Now in 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 255-62-7 (.798) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 41-8 (.837) mark in the previous seven years. AU went 7-0 at home in both 2000 and 2004, and posted a 6-1 mark in 2005.

Auburn has won 12 of its last 14 games at home and 20 of its last 23 games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

 Auburn has been tough to beat in night games at Jordan-Hare Stadium in recent seasons, accumulating a record of 11-1 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' only loss since 2000 was a 23-14 defeat at the hands of Georgia Tech in the 2005 season opener. Auburn has won its last three home night games since that contest.

 Auburn has only once previously played on Sept. 1. In 2001, the Tigers opened Tommy Tuberville's third season on The Plains with a 30-0 home victory over Ball State.

 Auburn is 138-44-5 (.751) all-time in the month of September, including a 28-5 mark under Tommy Tuberville. The Tigers have won 14 of their last 15 games played in September, and have won eight straight dating back to a 23-14 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2005 season opener.

 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]

 Tommy Tuberville enters his ninth season at Auburn in 2007 and his 13th 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 15th season in the league this year.

Tuberville has amassed a record of 71-29 in eight previous seasons at Auburn and an overall mark of 96-49. He has led the Tigers to seven straight bowl appearances.

Tuberville is fourth all-time at Auburn in wins, and is the fifth-longest tenured coach in school history.

 Auburn's offense will need to fill the void left by first-team All-SEC running back Kenny Irons and the school's all-time leading receiver Courtney Taylor, but the Tigers still return players responsible for all of their passing yards and roughly half of their rushing and receiving yards, plus three quarters of their touchdowns scored.

Category           2006    Returning  Percent
Passing Yards     2,245   2,245      100%
Rushing Yards     1,936   823        42.5%
Receptions         171     95         55.6%
Receiving Yards   2,245   1,310      58.4%
Scoring            320     168        52.5%
Touchdowns        37      28         75.7%
Total Offense      4,181   3,068      73.4%
All-Purpose Yards 5,437   3,298      60.7%

 With senior Brandon Cox returning for his third season as Auburn's starting quarterback this fall, history would suggest that the Tigers are primed for a successful season. The last 10 seasons that Auburn has had a senior returning as the starter at quarterback, the Tigers have won at least eight games every year, averaging 9.7 wins per season during those campaigns. Auburn's combined record during those 10 seasons is 97-22-2, and the Tigers won SEC Championships in 1983, 1987, 1989 and 2004 and SEC Western Division Championships in 1997 and 2000.
 Incidentally, Auburn went 10-0 against Georgia during those 10 seasons, and 8-2 against Alabama with seven straight wins.
 Below are the last 10 seasons that Auburn has had a senior returning as the starter at quarterback:

Year   Quarterback      Record  Notes
1979   Charlie Trotman  8-3 
1983   Randy Campbell  11-1    SEC Champs
1985   Pat Washington  8-4     Cotton Bowl
1987   Jeff Burger      9-1-2  SEC Champs
1989   Reggie Slack     10-2    SEC Champs
1993   Stan White       11-0    1st 11-win season
1995   Pat Nix          8-4     Outback Bowl
1997   Dameyune Craig  10-3   SEC West Champs
2000   Ben Leard        9-4     SEC West Champs
2004   Jason Campbell   13-0    SEC Champs

 One concern entering the 2007 season for Auburn is a lack of experience on the offensive line. The Tigers lost four senior starters from last year's team, including first-round NFL draft pick Ben Grubbs. Senior tackle King Dunlap is the only returning starter, and his 14 career starts account for seventy percent of the just 20 career starts made by Auburn's entire offensive line unit. Junior Jason Bosley started four games at center last season, while Leon Hart has made the other two starts. By comparison, Auburn's starting offensive line during the 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic vs. Nebraska had combined for 110 career starts (Grubbs - 38; Tim Duckworth - 22; Joe Cope - 20; Jonathan Palmer - 16; Dunlap - 14).

 Senior quarterback Brandon Cox is not only the oldest player on the Auburn team, he's older than 18 quarterbacks currently on NFL rosters. Cox, who will turn 24 on Oct. 31, is nearly two full years older than the No. 1 pick in last year's NFL draft, JaMarcus Russell, who was born Aug. 9, 1985.

 Defensively in 2006, Auburn must replace four starters from last year's squad that ranked seventh in the nation in scoring defense (13.9), including the two leading tacklers on last year's team. Linebackers Will Herring and Karibi, defensive end Marquis Gunn and cornerback David Irons combined for 208 tackles including 23 for losses and 6.5 sacks, five interceptions and 15 pass break-ups.

Herring led the squad with 72 tackles, while Dede was second with 59. Irons had a team-best 12 pass break-ups and tied with Herring and Eric Brock with a team-high two interceptions. Gunn ranked second on the team with four sacks and was third with 8.5 tackles for losses.

In addition to ranking seventh in the nation in scoring defense, the 2006 Auburn defense finished 19th nationally in total defense, allowing 292.3 yards per game.

 Senior defensive end Quentin Groves led the team with 9.5 sacks last season, pushing his career total to 23. Groves, who has been named to preseason watch lists for the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Hendricks Award, needs just three more sacks to tie the Auburn all-time record of 26 sacks held by Gerald Robinson (1982-85).

 The Tigers return 49 lettermen from last season, including 21 on offense, 26 on defense and two specialists. Auburn returns five starters on offense and seven on defense.

Auburn's roster of 120 players includes 17 seniors, 23 juniors, 23 sophomores, 23 redshirt freshmen and 34 freshmen. The underclassmen (80) represent 66.7 percent of the Tigers' roster.

A number of walk-ons joined the program after the first day of classes on August 16.

 Auburn is forced to replace perhaps the nation's top kicking trio after all three kickers from last season graduated. Placekicker John Vaughn, a finalist for the Lou Groza Award last season and a four-year starter, is Auburn's all-time leading scorer with 312 career points. Punter Kody Bliss, another four-year starter, ranked third in the nation in punting last season, averaging 45.7 yards per punt. Kickoff specialist Matt Clark led the nation last season with 51 touchbacks on 66 kickoffs (77 percent).

 In his 13th year as a head coach, Tommy Tuberville has five assistant coaches who have been with him all 13 years. That group includes: defensive tackles/ noseguard 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.

 Head Coach Tommy Tuberville has a senior class that includes 17 players at Auburn in 2007. The Tigers' group of 17 seniors is the third most during the Tuberville era, falling behind the group of 21 from last season and the 2004 group that had 18. 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 2007 seniors include: TE Cole Bennett, SS Eric Brock, QB Brandon Cox, OT King Dunlap, DT Tez Doolittle, DB Zach Gilbert, DE Quentin Groves, DE Brandon Haley, OL Leon Hart, DB Josh Hebert, CB Patrick Lee, H Matthew Motley, RB Danny Perry, WR Prechae Rodriguez, RB Carl Stewart, DT Josh Thompson and CB Jonathan Wilhite.

 Of Auburn's 17 seniors, 10 have seen time in more than 30 games during their careers. Quentin Groves leads the group with 40 career games played, and is the only member of the team to have played in every game over the previous three seasons. Groves is followed closely by Cole Bennett and Eric Brock with 39 games each, while King Dunlap has seen action in 38  games. Leon Hart is next with 37 games played, followed by Josh Thompson (36), Patrick Lee (36), Zach Gilbert (35), Carl Stewart (34) and Brandon Cox (31).

 Brandon Cox enters the 2007 season as the lone member of the team to have a starts streak that dates back to the 2005 season. Cox has started 21 consecutive games at quarterback, missing only the fourth game (Western Kentucky) from 2005 over the previous two seasons. 

Five other players return for the 2007 season after starting all 13 games last year. Seniors King Dunlap, Quentin Groves and Josh Thomopson, junior Rodgeriqus Smith and sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks all started every game last season.

 Freshmen will play a key role in determining Auburn's level of success this year, as 21 redshirt and true freshmen are listed on the initial depth chart, including six starters.

The depth chart lists 12 redshirt freshmen, including OG Mike Berry, DT Mike Blanc, DS Rick Cherry, DT Zach Clayton, SS Zac Etheridge, TB Mario Fannin, DE Michael Goggans, WR Tim Hawthorne, OG Byron Isom, P Ryan Shoemaker, LB Craig Stevens and WR Terrell Zachery.

Nine true freshman are listed on the depth chart, including K Wes Byrum, LB Bo Harris, S Mike McNeil, C Ryan Pugh, OG Chaz Ramsey, WR Chris Slaughter, K Graham Sutter, P Patrick Tatum and OT Lee Ziemba.

 A number of players have changed positions from last year entering the 2007 season.
 Sen'Derrick Marks, who started all 13 games at defensive tackle last season, has moved outside to a defensive end position.

Tristan Davis, who saw time at running back in 2005 before moving to safety last year, is once again a running back for the Tigers.

Also, Bart Eddins has moved from the defensive line back to the offensive line, while Michael Goggans has moved from tight end to defensive end.

 Auburn has had a knack for winning close ball games since Tommy Tuberville arrived as the Tigers' head coach. In his previous eight seasons at the helm, Auburn is 24-10 in games decided by seven points or less and has won 12 of its last 14, including all five games last season.

 Auburn has scored in 50 consecutive games, which is the fourth-longest streak in school history. The Tigers have not been shut out since a 23-0 loss to USC to open the 2003 season. The third-longest streak without being shut out is 54 games and the second-longest is 58, but it would be quite a while before Auburn could challenge the school record. The Tigers scored in 149 straight games from Oct. 4, 1980 through Nov. 14, 1992.

 The 2007 season marks the 50-year anniversary of Auburn's 1957 National Championship team. The '57 Tigers finished with a perfect 10-0 record, including a 7-0 mark in the SEC, and was selected as the national champion following the season by the Associated Press. Auburn outscored its opponents that season by a combined score of 207-28, posting six shutouts and ending the season with a 40-0 whitewashing of Alabama.

 Each of Auburn's last two senior classes have established new school records for victories in a four-year period, and this year's class has a chance to extend that streak. The 2005 senior class tied the old mark of 39 wins in four years, before last year's class finished with a new record of 41 victories in the last four years. With 33 of those wins coming in the last three seasons, this year's class needs eight wins to tie that record and nine to become the winningest senior class in Auburn history.

 Auburn begins the season with nine graduates on the roster.

The Tiger graduates include: TE Cole Bennett (business administration), SS Eric Brock (public administration), QB Brandon Cox (business administration), DT Tez Doolittle (criminology), DB Zach Gilbert (public administration), DE Quentin Groves (criminology), CB Patrick Lee (criminology), RB Carl Stewart (political science) and NG Josh Thompson (physical education).
 Auburn tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is the father of Auburn redshirt freshman quarterback Steven Ensminger, while senior fullback Danny Perry is the son of Director of Football Operations Jimmy Perry. The younger Ensminger is the first Tiger to have his father on the coaching staff since Joe Whitt, Jr., played wide receiver from 1998-99 while Joe Whitt, Sr., who coached at Auburn from 1981-2005, was a linebackers coach.

Previously, Gene Lorendo, an assitant coach from 1951-75, saw his son Mac letter at offensive tackle from 1970-72, earning All-SEC honors as a senior, and Paul Davis, an assistant coach from 1967-80 and 1987-90, watched his son Rhett letter at split end from 1972-73.

 The most notable change to Jordan-Hare Stadium for the 2007 season is a new high definition video board above the south end zone. The $2.9 million board is the first true HD video display in the SEC and makes Auburn just the second NCAA member institution to invest in true high definition LED video capabilities. The display measure approximately 30 feet high by 74 feet wide, and exceeds 2,200 square feet. It has the capability to show a single, wide screen image, and can also be split into multiple windows to show lineups, game statistics, out-of-town game information and much more.

 Auburn has demonstrated a proficiency for placing players in the National Football League. As of Aug. 21, 38 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 and Atlanta Falcons have four each.

 Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 62-4 when scoring 20 or more points in a game, including a 60-3 mark in the regular season. Dating back to 1995, Auburn is 83-11 when scoring 20 or more points in a game.

 Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 41-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 46 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 22 years, Auburn is 115-2 when scoring 30 points.

 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.

 Cole Bennett started his freshman year at Auburn already having accumulated 27 credit hours ... Bennett was also married during the summer of 2007, joining Quentin Groves as married players on the Tigers' squad ... Oscar Gonzales is originally from Cuba and is bilingual ... Linebacker Courtney Harden and defensive tackle Jermarcus Ricks are brothers ... Brad Lester was a high school teammates of the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Francoeur ... Carl Stewart plays the violin.