Sept. 23, 2007
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AUBURN (2-2, 0-1 SEC) vs. #4/3 FLORIDA (4-0, 2-0 SEC)
BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM (88,548) GAINESVILLE, FL
SEPTEMBER 29, 2007 8 PM ET/7 PM CT TV: ESPN
GAME 5 QUICK FACTS
Tommy Tuberville (Southern Arkansas, 1976)
Auburn Record 73-31 (9th year)
vs. Florida 2-4
Career Record 98-51 (13th year)
vs. Florida 2-5
Urban Meyer (Cincinnati, 1986)
Florida Record 26-4 (3rd year)
vs. Auburn 0-1
Overall Record 65-12 (7th year)
vs. Auburn 0-1
AU leads, 41-38-2
at Auburn AU leads, 25-8-1
at Gainesville UF leads, 23-8
Neutral sites AU leads, 8-7-1
at Atlanta, GA UF leads, 1-0
at Columbus, GA AU leads, 1-0
at Jacksonville, FL AU leads, 3-2
at Miami, FL AU leads, 1-0
at Mobile, AL Tied, 0-0-1
at Montgomery, AL AU leads, 3-2
at Tampa, FL UF leads, 2-0
Last Meeting AU 27, UF 17
Oct. 14, 2006 in Auburn, AL
Current Streak AU, 1
Auburn Not ranked
Florida No. 4 AP/No. 3 USA Today
Play-by-play Mike Patrick
Analyst Todd Blackledge
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.
SATELITTE RADIO SIRIUS 114
LOCALLY WKKR-FM (97.7)
Westwood One (Live)
Play-by-play Kevin Kugler
Analyst Terry Bowden
Live audio & stats www.auburntigers.com
Auburn goes on the road for the first time this season when the Tigers visit Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field to take on third-ranked Florida Saturday at 7 p.m. CT The game, which will be nationally televised by ESPN, will pit Florida against the last team to beat the Gators. Auburn handed the 2006 National Champions a 27-17 loss last year in Jordan-Hare Stadium, which would prove to be their only loss of the season.
* Auburn will be playing Florida for the 82nd time, which is the third most of any Auburn opponent behind only Georgia and Georgia Tech.
* Each of the last three meetings between Auburn and Florida have been decided in the final minutes, with Auburn winning two of the three.
* Auburn's last win in the Swamp came in 1994, when the Tigers upset No. 1 Florida 36-33.
* Auburn has 21 players on its roster from the state of Florida.
* Auburn has won eight of its last nine games against teams ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll, including four in a row.
* Auburn's last win against a team ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press top 25 poll was a 38-35 victory over Florida in 1993.
* Auburn has won its last 12 games when wearing all white uniforms dating back to the 2004 season.
* Auburn has won six straight SEC road games and 12 of its last 13 games against SEC teams outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
* After committing 10 turnovers while forcing just one in the two previous games, Auburn forced six turnovers and committed just one against New Mexico State.
* Auburn started four true freshman on offense against New Mexico State, and has played 23 true and redshirt freshmen this season.
* Of Auburn's 115 points scored this season, 91 have been scored by underclassmen.
* Auburn has outscored its opponents 41-16 in the second quarter this season.
* Junior WR Rodgeriqus Smith has hauled in Auburn's three longest pass receptions of the season, including two for more than 50 yards.
* DE Quentin Groves needs just one more sack to equal the Auburn career record of 26 held by Gerald Robinson (1982-85).
* Tommy Tuberville needs just two more victories to become the fifth active coach in the SEC with 100 career coaching victories.
One of Auburn's longest rivalries continues when the Tigers meet Florida Saturday. The two teams first played in 1912, and met every year for 58 seasons from 1945-2002, splitting the games 29-29-1 during that span (two meetings in 2000 due to the SEC Championship game). After a three-year hiatus, the rivalry resumed last season.
Saturday's game will be the 82nd meeting between the two teams. There are only two schools that Auburn has played more times than Florida: Georgia (110) and Georgia Tech (92).
AUBURN-FLORIDA SERIES NOTES
Florida has won the last three meetings in Gainesville, and five of the last six ... Auburn's last win in the Swamp was a 36-33 victory over the No. 1-ranked Gators in 1994 ... Auburn has won four of the last five games when Florida is ranked in the top four of the Associated Press poll ... The last time Florida was ranked and Auburn was not, the Tigers earned a 23-20 victory over No. 1 Florida in 2001 in Auburn ... Last year's game was the first time Auburn has held Florida to fewer than 20 points since 1989 ... The winner in the last 15 meetings has scored at least 23 points ... The losing team has been held to 10 points or fewer in 13 of the last 21 meetings ... Ten of the last 24 matchups have been decided by seven points or fewer.
Five players on the Auburn roster played at the same high school as members of the Florida team. Senior wide receivers Prechae Rodriguez of Auburn and Andre Caldwell of Florida both went to Tampa's Jefferson High School, as did Florida redshirt freshman tight end Trent Pupello. Auburn sophomore defensive back Walter McFadden and Florida sophomore linebacker Roderick Blackett both attended Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Fla.
Auburn redshirt freshman deep snapper Rick Cherry went to Trinity Catholic in Ocala, as did Florida sophomore wide receiver Joey Sorrentino and freshman quarterback John Brantley.
Auburn freshman kicker Wes Byrum played at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale with three Gators, including freshman safety Major Wright, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert and sophomore fullback Andrew Johnson. Auburn freshman linebacker Josh Bynes was teammates with Florida freshman cornerback Moses Jenkins at Boyd H. Anderson High School in Coral Springs,
There is also a connection in the coaching staff, as Florida offensive line/tackles; tight ends coach Steve Addazio was the offensive line coach at Indiana from 2002-03, when Auburn's Al Borges was the offensive coordinator for the Hoosiers.
A total of 21 players on the Auburn roster call Florida home. Auburn players from the Sunshine State are: DL Mike Blanc (Pompano Beach), LB Josh Bynes (Lauderdale Lakes), K Wes Byrum (Ft. Lauderdale), DB Brett Carr (Niceville), DE Antoine Carter (Ft. Lauderdale), DS Rick Cherry (Ocala), DL Kyle Coulahan (Pensacola), DB Lorenzo Ferguson (Miami), OL Oscar Gonzalez (Hialeah), OL Tyronne Green (Pensacola), DE Brandon Haley (Lakeland), K Zach Kutch (Milton), DB Patrick Lee (Miami), DB Walter McFadden (Pompano Beach), DL Bryant Miller (Miami), OL Brantley Poe (Lakeland), WR Prechae Rodriguez (Tampa), DL Darrell Roseman (Dunedin), DL Pat Sims (Ft. Lauderdale), DB Mike Slade (Tallahassee) and LB Craig Stevens (Tallahassee).
FLORIDA QUICK HITTERS
Florida is tied for the second-longest active winning streak in the nation, winning its last 11 games in a row since last year's loss at Auburn (Wisc. 13, LSU 11) ... The Gators have won 18 consecutive games in the Swamp, which is the nation's third-longest home winning streak ... Florida is ranked sixth in the nation in scoring offense (49.3) and 11th in total offense (517.8) ... The Gators opened the season by scoring at least 45 points in its first three games for the first time in school history ... Florida is 10th in the SEC and 82nd nationally in pass defense (252.5) ... The Gators are 24-of-26 in the red zone with 21 touchdowns ... Tim Tebow is ranked third nationally in passing efficiency (197.96), fifth in total offense (363.5) and 46th in rushing (89.5) ... Percy Harvin has had over 100 yards receiving each of the last two weeks ... Florida had played 32 true and redshirt freshmen in the first three games.
THREE STRAIGHT BARN BURNERS
Each of the last three games in the Auburn-Florida series were decided in the final minute, with Auburn winning two of the three.
In 2001 at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Damon Duval nailed a 44-yard field goal with 10 seconds left to lift unranked Auburn to a 23-20 upset of No. 1 Florida. Duval's kick was set up by Karlos Dansby's interception off Gator quarterback Rex Grossman with under five minutes left in the game.
In 2002 in Gainesville, Auburn rallied from 16 points down in the fourth quarter to force overtime, but couldn't complete the comeback as Duval's potential game-winning 23-yard field goal with 30 seconds left was blocked, forcing overtime. The Gators scored on a 25-yard pass from Grossman to Taylor Jacobs in overtime, then stuffed a fourth-down attempt by Auburn to earn a 30-23 victory.
Last season in Auburn, the Tigers rallied from a 17-8 deficit to lead 21-17 when Florida took possession of the ball with 31 seconds left. But Patrick Lee returned a fumble 20 yards for a touchdown on the game's final play to seal the victory.
TIGERS TOUGH ON TOP TEN
Auburn has won eight of its last nine games against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 10, including wins last season against then-No. 2 Florida and then-No. 6 LSU. The Tigers have won four straight games against top-ten teams and six straight at home. The only loss against a top-ten team since the 2004 season came in overtime at LSU in 2005 by a 20-17 score.
Also in 2005, Auburn posted victories at No. 9 Georgia (31-30) and against No. 8 Alabama (28-18). In 2004, the Tigers defeated No. 5 LSU (10-9), No. 10 Tennessee (34-10), No. 8 Georgia (24-6) and No. 9 Virginia Tech (16-13) in the NOKIA Sugar Bowl.
During the Tommy Tuberville era, Auburn is 14-10 in games played against top 10 teams, and has won 14 of its last 19 games dating back to a 23-20 upset of No. 1-ranked Florida Oct. 13, 2001.
Dating back to the 2002 season, Auburn has played 18 games against top 10 teams.
VS. TEAMS RANKED NO. 4
Auburn has 15 all-time wins against teams ranked in the top five of the Associated Press poll, and five of those have come against teams ranked No. 4. The Tigers are 5-9-1 in such games, although Auburn has not played a fourth-ranked team since a 21-14 loss to Alabama in Birmingham in 1994. Auburn's last win against a No. 4-ranked team was in 1993, when the Tigers beat Florida 38-35 in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn also beat No. 4 Florida State (59-27) in 1985, No. 4 Georgia (13-7) in 1983, No. 4 Tennessee (10-6) in 1972 and No. 4 Georgia Tech (7-6) in 1959.
WINNING IN WHITE
Auburn may be looking forward to donning its white road uniforms for the first time this season, as the Tigers have won their last 12 games when wearing all white. Auburn has not lost when wearing white jerseys since the final road game of the 2003 season at Georgia. The Tigers went 5-0 in all white uniforms in 2004, 3-0 in 2005 and 4-0 in 2006. Included in that streak is the 2004 SEC Championship game against Tennessee and a 2007 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic victory over Nebraska. Auburn also has road wins at Alabama (twice), Ole Miss (twice), Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi State during that span.
Over the past five seasons, Auburn has the nation's third-best record in games played away from home (road or neutral site games). The Tigers are 17-5 (.773) since the start of the 2003 season outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium, trailing only USC (25-4, .862) and Boise State (21-6, .778). In SEC games, Auburn has won six straight road games, and is 12-1 against SEC teams outside of Auburn since the 2004 season.
TWO OF SEC'S TOP TEAMS TANGLE
Auburn's game against Florida will feature two teams with almost identical SEC records since the 2000 season, and two of the top three teams in the league since that season. Florida and LSU are tied for the best SEC record since the 2000 season at 43-15, while Auburn is just a half game behind at 42-15.
ON THIS DATE
Auburn owns an all-time record of 9-3-2 on Sept. 29, and has won two straight. Auburn's last appearance on Sept. 29 came in 2001 during a 24-21 win at Vanderbilt. Auburn's most memorable Sept. 29 game came against Tennessee - a school it has faced six times on that date. In 1990, the third-ranked Tigers battled the fifth-ranked Volunteers in Jordan-Hare Stadium in a nationally-televised game. Tennessee jumped out to a 26-9 lead early in the fourth quarter, but Auburn rallied, completing two touchdown passes on fourth down, including one from Stan White to Greg Taylor from 11 yards out with 1:56 left, as the game ended in a 26-26 tie.
Auburn is 140-46-5 (.746) all-time in the month of September, including a 30-7 mark under Tommy Tuberville. The Tigers have won 16 of their last 19 games played in September, and had won nine straight prior to falling in overtime to South Florida on Sept. 8.
Turnovers were detrimental during Auburn's two losses this season, as the Tigers committed five turnovers in each game while forcing just one total in the two games (-9 margin). But against New Mexico State last Saturday, Auburn forced six turnovers, which was the most by the Tigers since forcing six against Tennessee in 2004. Auburn is +6 (9-3) in turnover margin in its two victories.
Turnovers helped Auburn put 55 points on the board against the Aggies. Prior to the game, Auburn had just 14 points off turnovers this season. But against New Mexico State, the Tigers totaled 34 points off turnovers.
Auburn provided a rare sight when the Tigers lined up for their first offensive play against New Mexico State, as four true freshmen were in the starting lineup, including three on the offensive line. Right tackle Lee Ziemba started for the fourth straight game, but right guard Chaz Ramsey and left tackle Ryan Pugh were not only making their first career starts, but playing collegiately for the first time. At quarterback, Kodi Burns became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Tigers since Gabe Gross in 1998. In his 13 years as a head coach, Tommy Tuberville had never before started a true freshman at quarterback.
IN A RUSH
Auburn had its biggest rushing game of the season vs. New Mexico State last Saturday, accumulating 229 yards on the ground. Both Ben Tate (111 yards) and Mario Fannin (103 yards) went over the century mark, marking the first time since 2005 at Kentucky that Auburn had two 100-yard rushers in the same game. In the game at Lexington, Tristan Davis rushed for 162 yards and Kenny Irons had 103.
Redshirt freshman running back Mario Fannin had his first career 100-yard rushing game against New Mexico State, totaling 103 yards on 15 carries. He also had three rushing touchdowns, becoming the first Auburn back since Kenny Irons at Kentucky in 2005 to rush for three scores in one game. Fannin had a 67-yard touchdown run late in the game, which was the longest play from scrimmage for Auburn since Tristan Davis raced 75 yards for a score in that same game at Kentucky.
Fannin leads Auburn this season in all-purpose yards, averaging 116.8 yards per game. Fannin leads the team with 238 kickoff return yards, has rushed for 205 yards and has 24 yards receiving for a total of 467 all-purpose yards.
Junior wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith had his first two touchdowns of the season last Saturday against New Mexico State. Smith, who leads Auburn with 11 catches for 253 yards this season, became the first Auburn player to catch two touchdown passes in one game since Ben Obomanu against Louisiana Tech in 2004. Smith's 58-yard touchdown pass from Kodi Burns was the longest pass play of the season for Auburn, and Smith also has the team's second- and third-longest pass receptions of the season, with a 55-yard catch against Kansas State and a 36-yard reception against Mississippi State.
PICKING AND GRINNING
Senior cornerback Jonathan Wilhite returned to the lineup against New Mexico State after missing the Mississippi State game with an injury, and had an immediate impact. Wilhite picked off two passes, becoming the first Auburn player to intercept multiple passes in one game since Junior Rosegreen had four interceptions at Tennessee in 2004.
ON YOUR MARKS
Sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks accomplished a rare double against New Mexico State, collecting an interception and a fumble recovery. Marks, who has 18 tackles including 2.5 for losses this season, became the first Tiger to intercept a pass and recovery a fumble in the same game since Karibi Dede in 2005 at Arkansas.
SIMS STEPS UP
Junior defensive tackle Pat Sims has come up big in each of the last two games. Last Saturday against New Mexico State, he scored the games first points by scooping up a fumble and rumbling 21 yards for a score. On Sept. 15 against Mississippi State, he had a career-best four tackles for losses and five tackles overall. Sims is second on the team and sixth in the SEC with 5.5 tackles for losses this season, and also has 12 tackles, a sack, two pass break-ups and eight quarterback hurries.
Auburn has a lot of young talent on the squad this season, and to illustrate this point, one need look no further than the scoring column on the statistics sheet. Of Auburn's 115 points scored, 91 have been scored by freshmen and sophomores. True freshman Wes Byrum leads the team with 31 points, while redshirt freshman Mario Fannin has 24 points. Sophomores Ben Tate and Gabe McKenzie have two touchdowns each, while true freshman Kodi Burns and sophomore Antonio Coleman have reached the end zone once each.
SECOND QUARTER SUPERB
The second quarter has been Auburn's best quarter this season, as the Tigers have outscored their opponents 41-16 during the period. Auburn has outgained its opponents 389-185 in the second quarter and owns an advantage in time of possession of 32:49-27:11. Only New Mexico State has manage to gain more than 32 yards against Auburn during the second quarter.
TUBERVILLE IN NINTH SEASON
Tommy Tuberville is in 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 are both coaching in their 15th seasons in the league this year.
Tuberville has amassed a record of 73-31 during his tenure at Auburn and 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.
CENTURY MARK APPROACHES
Tommy Tuberville needs just two more wins to amass 100 victories during his career as a head coach. Tuberville currently owns a career record of 98-51 in 13 seasons as a head coach. He would become the fifth active SEC coach to have 100 career victories, joining Steve Spurrier, Phillip Fulmer, Rich Brooks and Houston Nutt, and just the third to earn 100 victories while coaching at an SEC school (Spurrier and Fulmer).
Auburn has already had 23 freshmen (14 true, nine redshirt) play this season, including a season-high 17 who played in the game against South Florida Sept. 8. The starting lineup has included four true freshmen on offense, including right tackle Lee Ziemba, right guard Chaz Ramsey, left tackle Ryan Pugh and quarterback Kodi Burns. Redshirt freshmen Craig Stevens and Zac Etheridge have started every game defensively, while redshirt freshman Mike Berry started the first three games at right guard. The kicking game features true freshman placekicker Wes Byrum as well as true freshman punter Patrick Tatum and redshirt freshman punter Ryan Shoemaker.
In addition, redshirt freshman running back Mario Fannin is second on the team in rushing, while true freshman safety Mike McNeil is tied for ninth on the team with 14 tackles.
The Auburn defense has performed admirably, despite a rash of injuries. The Tigers have had four defensive starters (Tray Blackmon, Merrill Johnson, Aairon Savage and Jonathan Wilhite) miss games due to injury already this season, and yet still rank in the top 30 in the nation in total defense (26th, 306.8), pass efficiency defense (22nd, 103.43) and tackles for loss (15th, 8.0).
True freshman quarterback Kodi Burns saw his first game action when he entered the Mississippi State game midway through the first period. Burns ended the game with 87 yards rushing and his first career touchdown. Had it not been for an 11-yard sack, Burns would have been just two yards short of becoming the first Auburn quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game since Phil Gargis had 129 yards against Florida State on Oct. 23, 1976.
FILLING IN ADMIRABLY
Junior linebacker Chris Evans earned his first career start against South Florida Sept. 8, filling in for an injured Tray Blackmon. The result was the highest tackles total by an Auburn player in almost five years. Evans tallied 14 tackles (five solo, nine assists), which was the most by an Auburn player since Karlos Dansby had 14 tackles at Florida on Oct. 19, 2002. He posted a team-high eight tackles in the following game against Mississippi State, becoming the first Auburn player since Dansby in 2002 to have at least 22 tackles in two games.
GROVES IN A GROOVE
Senior defensive end Quentin Groves was named to preseason watch lists for the Lombardi Award, the Bednarik Award, the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Hendricks Award, and his play through the first four games has shown why. Groves leads the team with six tackles for losses, which is tied for third in the SEC, and has 18 tackles, including a career-best nine against South Florida. Groves also has two sacks, a forced fumble and 17 quarterback hurries through four games played.
GROVES NEARING SACKS RECORD
Quentin Groves had two sacks in the season-opening victory against Kansas State, pushing his career sacks total to 25. His second sack with just over a minute left and Auburn clinging to a 16-13 lead forced a fumble that was returned 34 yards for a touchdown by Antonio Coleman, sealing the victory. Groves needs just one more sack to tie the Auburn all-time record of 26 sacks held by Gerald Robinson (1982-85).
FRESHMAN KICKERS SHINE
Auburn was forced to replace perhaps the nation's top kicking trio after all three kickers from last season graduated. The Tigers lost Lou Groza finalist John Vaughn, the team's all-time leading scorer with 312 career points; Kody Bliss, who ranked third in the nation in punting with a 45.7-yard average; and Matt Clark, who led the nation last season with 51 touchbacks on 66 kickoffs (77 percent). But the newcomers have excelled in the first four games.
True freshman Wes Byrum has made six field goals, connecting three times in each of the first two games, including a season-long 49-yard field goal against South Florida. He also took over the kickoff duties last Saturday against New Mexico State and had four touchbacks.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Shoemaker was leading the SEC averaging 45.1 yards per punt before being injured against South Florida, and in his first punt after his return, boomed a 62-yarder against New Mexico State. His replacement, true freshman Patrick Tatum, has averaged 42.0 yards per punt with seven of his 11 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
COX LEADS ALL SEC QBs IN WINS
Brandon Cox earned his 20th career victory as a starting quarterback during Auburn's 23-13 victory over Kansas State in the season opener. Cox, who is 20-7 as a starter, leads all SEC quarterbacks in career victories. Tennessee's Erik Ainge is second with 19, followed by Kentucky's Andre Woodson (15).
SENIOR SIGNAL CALLER = SUCCESS
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 Patrick 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
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.
Auburn games have not been lacking for excitement this season, as the first three games were decided in the final two minutes. Against Mississippi State, Auburn had a potential game-winning drive stall at the Bulldog 9-yardline with just 48 seconds left. The Tigers' other loss ended in overtime. And in Auburn's victory over Kansas State, the Tigers were clinging to a three-point lead before a fumble return for a touchdown with just 1:11 left sealed the victory.
The last time Auburn played three straight games that were decided in the final two minutes was in 2001. The streak started with a 24-21 victory over Vanderbilt when the Commodores' last-minute drive stalled on the Auburn 28. The next week, a Damon Duval 47-yard field goal with 18 seconds left gave Auburn a 16-14 win over Mississippi State. Duval again provided the heroics one week later, booting a 44-yard field goal with just 10 seconds left as Auburn upset No. 1 Florida, 23-20.
Eight players made their first career starts in the season opener against Kansas State, and 10 players played in their first collegiate games. Starting for the first time were OG Mike Berry, SS Zac Etheridge, OG Tyronne Green, CB Jerraud Powers, WR Prechae Rodriguez, DT Pat Sims, RB Ben Tate and OT Lee Ziemba. Berry, Etheridge and Ziemba played in their first collegiate games, as did K Wes Byrum, DE Antoine Carter, LB Bo Harris, WR Tim Hawthorne, K Morgan Hull, FS Mike McNeil, and P Ryan Shoemaker.
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 257-64-7 (.794) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 43-10 (.811) mark over the past 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 13-2 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 had a four-game winning streak in home night games prior to an overtime loss to South Florida Sept. 15.
OL THIN ON EXPERIENCE
One concern entering the 2007 season for Auburn was 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 entering the season accounted for 70 percent of the just 20 career starts made by Auburn's entire offensive line unit prior to 2007. Junior Jason Bosley started four games at center last season, while Leon Hart had 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).
17 OR LESS
Since Will Muschamp took over as defensive coordinator prior to the 2006 season, Auburn has held 12 of its 17 opponents to 17 points or less. The Tigers, who have allowed just 15.2 points per game since Muschamp's arrival, are 12-0 in games in which they hold their opponents to no more than 17 points.
GONE ON D
Defensively in 2007, 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 Dede, 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.
AUBURN BY THE NUMBERS
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 119 players includes 17 seniors, 23 juniors, 23 sophomores, 22 redshirt freshmen and 34 freshmen. The underclassmen (79) represent 66.4 percent of the Tigers' roster.
A number of walk-ons joined the program after the first day of classes on August 16.
13 AND COUNTING
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.
THE SENIOR CLASS
Head Coach Tommy Tuberville has a senior class that includes 17 players this season. 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, including six with at least 40 games played. Quentin Groves leads the group with 44 career games played, and is the only member of the team to have played in every game over the past four seasons. Groves is followed closely by Cole Bennett and Eric Brock with 43 games each, while King Dunlap has seen action in 41 games. Josh Thompson and Patrick Lee are next with 40 games played, followed by Zach Gilbert (39), Leon Hart and Carl Stewart (38) and Brandon Cox (35).
Brandon Cox had a streak of 24 consecutive starts at quarterback snapped last Saturday against New Mexico State. He had started every game since a 2005 contest against Western Kentucky.
The longest active starting streaks now for Auburn belong to four players who started all 13 games last year and the first four games this season. Seniors Quentin Groves and Josh Thompson, junior Rodgeriqus Smith and sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks all have started the last 17 games.
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. Bart Eddins has moved from the defensive line back to the offensive line, while Michael Goggans has moved from tight end to defensive end.
NO SHUTOUTS ALLOWED
Auburn has scored in 54 consecutive games, which is tied for the third-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 second-longest streak without being shut out is 58 games, 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.
Wes Bryum missed an extra point against New Mexico State, snapping a string of 119 consecutive made PATs by Auburn. Byrum had made his first 12 PATs after John Vaughn finished his Auburn career by making his final 107 consecutive PATs dating back to the 2004 season. Prior to Vaughn's only career miss, Auburn had made an SEC record 209 consecutive PATs from 1999-2004. Auburn has made 329 of its last 331 PATs.
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.
SENIORS GO FOR NEW MARK
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.
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 nine seasons at the helm, Auburn is 24-12 in games decided by seven points or less and has won 12 of its last 16, including all five games last season.
FATHERS AND SONS
Senior fullback Danny Perry is the son of Director of Football Operations Jimmy Perry. The younger Perry is the first Tiger to have his father on the football 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 assistant 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.
In addition, Auburn freshman linebacker Adam Herring is the son of Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.
Auburn begins the season with 10 graduates on the roster, which is the third most of any Football Bowl Subdivision team.
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), H Matthew Motley (exercise science), 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 2007 season.
1. Boston College 17
2. Washington 11
3. Auburn 10
4. Notre Dame 9
5. Arizona State 8
7. Ole Miss 5
10. Memphis 4
TIGERS GO HIGH DEFINITION
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.
WHEN SCORING 20+ POINTS
Under Tommy Tuberville, Auburn is 63-5 when scoring 20 or more points in a game, including a 61-4 mark in the regular season. Dating back to 1995, Auburn is 84-12 when scoring 20 or more points in a game.
30+ POINTS EQUALS VICTORY
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.
BRAMBLETT RECEIVES SPORTSCASTER OF THE YEAR AWARD
Rod Bramblett, who handles the play-by-play duties of Auburn football, men's basketball and baseball on the Auburn ISP Sports Network, has been named the 2007 Sportscaster of the Year in the state of Alabama by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
A Valley, Ala., native, Bramblett became Auburn's lead announcer for football and men's basketball in 2003. Bramblett, 41, has served as the voice of Auburn baseball since 1993. This is the first time he has received this Sportscaster of the Year honor.
Bramblett is a 1988 graduate of Auburn.
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.
DID YOU KNOW?
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 Gonzalez is originally from Cuba and is bilingual ... Linebacker Courtney Harden and defensive tackle Jake Ricks are brothers ... Brad Lester was a high school teammate of the Atlanta Braves' Jeff Francoeur ... Carl Stewart plays the violin ... Josh Thompson proposed to his girlfriend, Renee Steptoe of Statesboro, Ga., on the field following Auburn's 55-20 victory over New Mexico State Sept. 22 (she said yes).