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Auburn Vs. Washington State Preview

Aug. 28, 2006

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SEPTEMBER 2, 2006 • 6:45 PM CT • TV: ESPN2


Tommy Tuberville (Southern Arkansas, 1976)
Auburn Record 60-27 (8th year)
vs. Washington State First meeting
Overall Record 85-47 (12th year)
vs. Washington State First meeting

Bill Doba (Ball State, 1962)
Washington State Record 19-16 (4th year)
Overall Record Same

First meeting

Auburn 4th AP/6th USA Today
Washington State Not ranked

ESPN2 (Live)
Play-by-play Ron Franklin
Analyst Ed Cunningham
Sidelines Jerry Punch

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.


Live audio & stats

Auburn begins its 114th year of football as it hosts Washington State in the first ever meeting between the two schools. The game, which is the season opener for both schools, will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2 at 6:45 p.m. CT.

* Auburn has an 86-25-2 record in season-opening games. Auburn has won 15 of its last 20 season openers, and has a 4-3 mark under head coach Tommy Tuberville, but has lost three of its last four season openers.
* Auburn's 86 season-opening victories is just one win behind Alabama and Arkansas for the most among the 12 Southeastern Conference schools.
* Auburn enters the season ranked fourth in the Associated Press preseason top 25 poll, which is Auburn's highest preseason ranking in the poll since the 1990 team was ranked third. The Tigers are sixth in the USA Today coaches preseason poll.
* Auburn's preseason ranking marks the fourth straight year the Tigers enter the season ranked in the preseason poll and the second time in the last four years Auburn has been a preseason Top 10 team.
* Auburn has posted a 22-3 record over the past two seasons, which is the third-best record in NCAA Division I-A during that span.
* Entering its 67th 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 249-60-7 (.799) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 35-6 (.854) mark in the last six years. Auburn has had two undefeated home seasons in the last six years (7-0 in 2000 and 2004).
* Auburn is 2-1 all-time on Sept. 2, defeating Ole Miss at home in both 1993 (16-12) and 1995 (46-13), but falling at USC (24-17) in the 2002 opener.
* Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 37-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 42 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game.
* Auburn is 133-44-5 (.745) all-time in the month of September, including a 23-5 mark under Tommy Tuberville.
* Tommy Tuberville enters his eighth season at Auburn in 2006 and his 12th 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 14th season in the SEC.

Auburn has an 86-25-2 record in season-opening games, but the opener has proved troublesome for Auburn lately, as the Tigers have dropped three of their last four. Last year, Auburn fell at home to Georgia Tech, 23-14, in the season opener, and the Tigers were twice beaten by Southern California -- 24-17 in 2003 at USC and 23-0 in 2004 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The lone victory during that span was a 31-0 win over Louisiana-Monroe in 2004.

Still, Auburn has won 15 of its last 20 season openers, and owns a 4-3 mark under head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Since 1977, Auburn is 19-5 in season openers against non-conference opponents. In 112 years of football at Auburn, the Tigers are 49-15 when opening the season versus non-conference foes.

Auburn's total of 86 season-opening victories is just one behind Alabama and Arkansas for the best among the 12 Southeastern Conference Schools.

Georgia is next with 85 wins in season openers followed by Ole Miss (82), Tennessee (81), LSU (79), Kentucky (77), Mississippi State (74), South Carolina and Florida (72) and Vanderbilt (64).

* WSU running back/special teams coach Kelly Skipper served as running backs and kickoff return team coach at UCLA from 1998-2000 when Al Borges was the offensive coordinator. Skipper succeeded Borges as offensive coordinator for two seasons after Borges left for California.
* Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and WSU offensive line coach Georgie Yarno both held those same positions at LSU from 2001-02.

Auburn has played just seven games in its history against teams currently in the Pac-10 Conference. The Tigers are 2-1 against Arizona, 1-0 against Oregon State and 1-2 against USC.

Southern California is the only Pac-10 team that Auburn has played since beating Arizona 21-10 in 1977, although the Wildcats were at that time not even part of the Pac-10 yet. The Tigers beat USC 16-7 in the 1987 Citrus Bowl, before falling to the Trojans in the opening games of the 2002 and 2003 seasons.

The two most recent games against USC are the only two that Tommy Tuberville has coached against Pac-10 teams since becoming a head coach in 1995.

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

It is the first time under head coach Tommy Tuberville and first time since the 1995-98 seasons that Auburn has been ranked at the start of four consecutive seasons.

Auburn's preseason ranking of No. 4 in the Associated Press preseason poll is the highest preseason ranking for the Tigers since the 1990 squad was ranked third to open the season.

This marks the 15th season that Auburn has started the year ranked in the AP top 10.

Year  Preseason Rank  Final Rank
2003  No. 6           NR
1995  No. 6           No. 22
1990  No. 3           No. 19
1989  No. 8           No. 6
1988  No. 7           No. 8
1987  No. 5           No. 7
1985  No. 2           NR
1984  No. 1           No. 14
1983  No. 4           No. 3
1975  No. 7           NR
1971  No. 7           No. 12
1964  No. 8           NR
1959  No. 3           No. T-19
1958  No. 3           No. 4

Auburn posted a record of 22-3 (.880) over the past two seasons, giving the Tigers the third-best record in the NCAA since the start of the 2004 season. Only USC (25-1, .962) and Texas (24-1, .960) have better winning percentages than Auburn over the past two seasons.

The 22 wins by Auburn over the past two seasons are also the most in a two-year period in Auburn history. The Tigers previously had four occurrences of 20 wins over a two-year span (1982-83; 1983-84; 1988-89; 1993-94).

Entering its 67th 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 249-60-7 (.799) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 35-6 (.854) mark in the last six years. AU went 7-0 at home in both 2000 and 2004, and posted a 6-1 mark last season.

Auburn is currently riding a six-game home winning streak and has won 14 of its last 15 games at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn is 2-1 all-time on games played on Sept. 2. Auburn beat Ole Miss at home in the season openers in both 1993 (16-12) and 1995 (46-13), including a rare Thursday night home game in 1993. The Tigers fell at USC (24-17) in the 2002 opener.

Auburn is 133-44-5 (.745) all-time in the month of September, including a 23-5 mark under Tommy Tuberville. The Tigers have won nine of their last 10 games played in September, and have won three 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.

INDIVIDUAL 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]

Senior Kenny Irons is back after leading the SEC in rushing last season with 1,293 yards (107.8 ypg) and 13 touchdowns. Irons will be bidding to become the first player to lead the SEC in rushing in consecutive years since LSU's Kevin Faulk in 1997-98. Irons would become just the second back to accomplish the feat in the last 20 years.

In the last 30 years, Auburn has had three players prior to Irons who returned after leading the SEC in rushing. Although none repeated as SEC rushing champ, all three posted 1,000-yard seasons the following year.

Joe Cribbs had an SEC-best 1,205 yards rushing in 1978, then ran for 1,120 yards and 14 TDs as a senior in 1979. However, teammate James Brooks ran for 1,208 yards as a junior that season to claim the league rushing crown. Brooks totaled 1,314 yards and nine scores as a senior in 1980.

Stephen Davis was the SEC rushing king in 1994 with 1,263 yards, before totaling 1,068 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1995.

Auburn's offense will need to fill the void left by three career 1,000-yard receivers (Devin Aromashodu, Anthony Mix and Ben Obomanu) who moved on to the NFL following the 2005 season, but the Tigers return players responsible for nearly all of their offensive production running and passing the ball last season.

Category           Returning  2005   Percent
Passing Yards      2,589      2,589  100%
Rushing Yards      2,191      2,338  93.7%
Receptions         88         195    45.1%
Receiving Yards    1,207      2,589  46.6%
Scoring            302        386    78.2%
Touchdowns         36         50     72.0%
Total Offense      4,780      4,927  97.0%
All-Purpose Yards  3,914      5,946  65.8%

Although Auburn lost three wideouts to the NFL following last season, the Tigers are not without a talented returner at that position. In fact, senior Courtney Taylor has more career receiving yards than any other returning player in the SEC. His 1,394 career receiving yards already ranks 10th in Auburn history, and his 99 career catches are tied for sixth best.

Defensively in 2006, Auburn must replace five starters from last year's squad that ranked sixth in the nation in scoring defense (15.5), including three starters on the defensive line and a pair of linebackers. DT Wayne Dickens, NG T.J. Jackson, DE Stanley McClover, LB Antarrious Williams and LB Travis Williams combined to total 230 tackles and 20.5 sacks in 2005.

Travis Williams was second on the team with 68 tackles, while Antarrious Williams (51) ranked third, Jackson (41) ranked eighth and Dickens (38) ranked tenth. McClover's eight sacks led the team while Dickens ranked second with 6.5.

In addition to ranking sixth in the nation in scoring defense, the 2005 Auburn defense finished 19th nationally in total defense, allowing 315.3 yards per game.

The Tigers return 58 lettermen from last season, including 26 on offense, 25 on defense and seven specialists. Auburn returns five starters on offense and six on defense.

Auburn's roster of 118 players includes 21 seniors, 21 juniors, 26 sophomores, 20 redshirt freshmen and 30 freshmen. The underclassmen (76) represent 64.4 percent of the Tigers' roster.

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

Tommy Tuberville enters his eighth season at Auburn in 2006 and his 12th 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 14th season in the league this year.

Tuberville has amassed a record of 60-27 in seven seasons at Auburn and an overall mark of 85-47. He has led the Tigers to six straight bowl appearances.

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

In his 12th year as a head coach, Tommy Tuberville has five assistant coaches who have been with him all 12 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 21 players at Auburn in 2006. The Tigers' group of 21 seniors is the most during the Tuberville era, surpassing 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 2006 seniors include: TE Cole Bennett, P Kody Bliss, DL Christopher Browder, K Matt Clark, C Joe Cope, LB Karibi Dede, OT Tim Duckworth, OG Ben Grubbs, WR Lee Guess, DE Marquies Gunn, SS Brant Haynie, LB Will Herring, CB David Irons, RB Kenny Irons, P Patrick Martyn, OL Jonathan Palmer, FS Pete Ruzicka, LB Kevin Sears, RB Tre Smith, WR Courtney Taylor and K John Vaughn.

Of Auburn's 21 seniors, 12 have seen time in more than 30 games during their careers. Tre Smith and Will Herring, who both have redshirted during seasons in which they saw limited action, have played in 41 and 40 games, respectively, to lead the group. Kody Bliss and Karibi Dede join Smith and Herring as players who have played in all 38 games over the previous three seasons. Courtney Taylor and Ben Grubbs have played in 37 games, followed by Cole Bennett (36), John Vaughn (35), Marquies Gunn (34), Kevin Sears (34), Jonathan Palmer (33) and Tim Duckworth (31).

Will Herring enters the 2006 season with a chance to set the Auburn record for consecutive starts. Herring has started 36 consecutive games, which is 11 shy of the school record of 47 held by OL Jeno James (1996-99). Former QB Stan White (45 games from 1990-93) has the second-longest starting streak in Auburn history.

Other players who enter the season with lengthy starting streaks include OG Ben Grubbs, who has started 25 straight games, and LB Karibi Dede and DE Marquies Gunn, who both started all 12 games last season.

Several players have changed positions from last year entering the 2006 season. The most notable change is that Will Herring, a three-year starter at free safety, has moved to linebacker this year.

Anthony Campbell has moved from defensive back to wide receiver, while Tristan Davis, who spent time at running back last year, is back in the defensive backfield in 2006.

Alonzo Horton has switched from defensive end to linebacker, while Steve Gandy moved from safety to linebacker. Andrew McCain switched from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, while Danny Perry moved from tight end to fullback.

Auburn's appearance on ESPN2 during the season opener is a good sign for the Tigers, as Auburn is 9-0 all-time when playing on ESPN2. Auburn had one game televised by ESPN2 in 2005, earning a 48-7 victory over South Carolina at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Oct. 1.

Auburn not only established a new school record for victories in a two-year period by winning 22 games over the past two seasons, but the Tigers also set a new three-year mark (30 wins) while tying the four-year record (39). Auburn's senior class enters the 2006 season needing nine victories to tie last year's senior group as the winningest senior class in school history, and 10 wins to become the winningest senior class in Auburn history.

Auburn begins the season with 11 graduates on the roster, which is the most of any Division 1-A football team.

The Tiger graduates include: TE Cole Bennett (business administration), P Kody Bliss (business marketing), C Joe Cope (economics), LB Karibi Dede (rehab special education), WR Lee Guess (business marketing), LB Will Herring (exercise science), CB David Irons (Sociology), P Patrick Martyn (business), RB Tre Smith (business), RB Carl Stewart (political science) and NG Josh Thompson (physical education).

Listed are the top 10 programs in terms of number of players who have completed their bachelor's degrees prior to the start of the 2006 season.

1.  Auburn          11
2.  Notre Dame       9
3.  Texas Tech       8
    Miami (Fla.)     8
5.  Boston College   7
    Louisiana Tech   7
    Penn State       7
8.  Kentucky         6
    Baylor           6
    West Virginia    6

Auburn tight ends coach Steve Ensminger is the father of Auburn freshman quarterback Steven Ensminger, while junior 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.

Jordan-Hare Stadium underwent a $30.5 million facelift since last season as Phase Three of the Jordan-Hare Renovation Project. The most noticeable change is the addition of a courtyard on the west side of the stadium. To improve the lack of space in the interior concourse of the stadium, 115,000 square feet was added as the West concourse expanded out toward Donahue Drive. The surface of the concourses in the stadium were upgraded as well.

Also, the southwest ramp leading to the upper deck has been extended, creating a new entrance gate at the bottom of that ramp. The number of lighting fixtures has increased and the quality of those fixtures has improved. There are also more concession stands and women's restrooms in the stadium.

Inside the stadium, two ProAd displays have been placed on the East and West upper deck facias, and the North end zone scoreboard was replaced. In conjunction with the new scoreboard, all of the timing devices throughout the stadium have been retrofitted so that they will now all be communicating with one another.

The Auburn football uniforms may look the same in 2006 to the casual observer, but the Tigers have made one key change to the uniforms. The uniforms are now made by Under Armour Performance Apparel as part of a five-year contract signed in December of 2005 that makes Under Armour the official outfitter of all of Auburn's athletic teams. The contract, worth $10.6 million in sponsorship, product and additional benefits, will see Auburn's athletic teams wearing Under Armour uniforms, cleats, apparel and accessories beginning in the 2006-07 academic year.

Auburn has demonstrated a proficiency for placing players in the National Football League. As of Aug. 21, 37 former Auburn Tigers were listed on NFL rosters. The Washington Redskins have the most former Tigers, with five former Auburn players on the roster, while the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants have four each.

Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 53-4 when scoring 20 or more points in a game, including a 51-3 mark in the regular season. Dating back to 1995, Auburn is 74-11 when scoring 20 or more points in a game.

Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 37-0 when scoring 30 or more points in a game. Auburn has won 42 consecutive games when scoring 30 or more points in a game.

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 111-2 when scoring 30 points.

Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast (CSS) will broadcast encore presentations of Auburn football every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT with Andy Burcham handling play-by-play duties and Cole Cubelic doing color commentary. CSS will also air the Auburn Football Preview every Friday at 4 p.m. CT.

CSS is a 24-hour regional sports network serving approximately 4.5 million households across 11 Southeastern states.

Cole Bennett started his freshman year at Auburn already having accumulated 27 credit hours ... Kody Bliss is one of five boys in his family, all of whom have names that start with "K" ... Bliss was also married during the summer of 2006 ... Joe Cope ran his own grass-cutting business in high school ... Tim Duckworth is engaged to former Auburn track and field athlete Ronda Gullatte ... Oscar Gonzales is originally from Cuba and is bilingual ... Will Herring is a self-professed "Chess Geek" ... Brad Lester was a high school teammates of the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Francoeur ... Carl Stewart plays the violin ... Courtney Taylor's last name should be Walker, but an error on his birth certificate resulted in him getting his mother's maiden name for a last name ... John Vaughn has broken his left wrist three times and his right wrist once, broken his left ankle twice, knocked teeth out and had to have stitches six times.



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