Sept. 30, 2007
AUBURN (3-2, 1-1 SEC) vs. VANDERBILT (3-1, 1-1 SEC)
JORDAN-HARE STADIUM (87,451) AUBURN, AL
OCTOBER 6, 2007 11:30 AM CT TV: LFS
GAME 6 QUICK FACTS
Tommy Tuberville (Southern Arkansas, 1976)
Auburn Record 74-31 (9th year)
vs. Vanderbilt 4-0
Career Record 99-51 (13th year)
vs. Florida 8-0
Bobby Johnson (Clemson, 1973)
Vanderbilt Record 18-44 (6th year)
vs. Auburn 0-2
Overall Record 78-80 (14th year)
vs. Auburn 0-1
at Auburn AU leads, 25-8-1
at Auburn AU leads, 7-0
at Nashville VU leads, 10-7
at Neutral Sites VU leads, 9-5-1
at Birmingham, AL Tied, 4-4-1
at Jacksonville, FL VU leads, 1-0
at Montgomery, AL VU leads, 4-1
Last Meeting AU 45, VU 7
Sept. 13, 2003 in Nashville
Current Streak AU, 12
Auburn RV Associated Press/RV USA Today
Vanderbilt Not ranked
Lincoln Financial Sports (Live)
Play-by-play Dave Neal
Analyst Dave Archer
Sidelines Dave Baker
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 121
LOCALLY WKKR-FM (97.7)
Live audio & stats www.auburntigers.com
Fresh off a stunning 20-17 victory at No. 4 Florida last Saturday, Auburn returns home to host Vanderbilt in the first meeting between the two schools since 2003. The Commodores take a two-game winning streak into the game after a 30-7 victory against Eastern Michigan last Saturday, but will be playing on the road for the first time this season. The game will kick off at 11:30 a.m. CT and be televised by Lincoln Financial Sports.
* Auburn has won its last 12 games against Vanderbilt dating back to 1955.
* Auburn will honor its 1957 national championship team Saturday, and wear white uniforms plus helmets with no AU logos and gray facemasks, similar to the look of the `57 team.
* Tommy Tuberville needs just one more victory to become the fifth active coach in the SEC with 100 career coaching victories.
* Tuberville has won 14 games against Associated Press top 10 teams during his tenure at Auburn.
* Auburn has beaten at least one team ranked in the Associated Press Top 10 in each of the last seven years.
* After having just one scoring drive of at least 10 plays in the first four games, all four of Auburn's scoring drives against Florida lasted at least 10 plays.
* After has a turnover ratio of +7 in its three victories and -9 in its two losses.
* Auburn's freshmen kickers have excelled, as Wes Bryum made the game-winning field goal at Florida and Ryan Shoemaker would lead the SEC in punting if he had one more punt to qualify.
* Junior WR Rodgeriqus Smith has set career highs in receiving yards in each of the past two weeks, including 102 yards on a career-best nine catches last Saturday at Florida.
* Brandon Cox leads all active SEC quarterbacks with 21 career victories as a starter.
* Auburn started three true freshmen on the offensive line each of the past two games, and has played 24 true and redshirt freshmen this season.
* Of Auburn's 135 points scored this season, 111 (82.2 percent) have been scored by underclassmen.
* Four of Auburn's five games this season have been decided in the last two minutes.
* Auburn has outscored its opponents 48-16 in the second quarter this season.
* Auburn has an all-time record of 257-64-7 (.794) at Jordan-Hare Stadium, including a 43-10 (.811) mark over the past eight years.
* Auburn has won 13 of its last 17 games decided by seven points or less.
AUBURN-VANDERBILT SERIES NOTES
Auburn has won 12 straight in the series since Vanderbilt's last victory in 1955 ... The Commodores have never won in Auburn in seven tries ... Vanderbilt won eight consecutive games in the series from 1929 to 1950 ... Auburn has averaged 36.5 points during its 12-game winning streak against Vanderbilt ... The Tigers have held Vanderbilt to 10 points or less in eight of the 12 victories ... Auburn has rushed for over 200 yards in eight of the last 12 meetings, and had at least four rushing touchdowns in five of those 12 games ... Vanderbilt has averaged just 108.7 yards passing per game in the last nine meetings.
Four players on the Auburn roster call Tennessee home. Auburn players from Tennessee are: OL Mike Berry (Antioch), OT King Dunlap (Nashville), DE A.J. Greene (Brentwood) and RB Carl Stewart (Alcoa).
Vanderbilt has nine players on its roster from the state of Alabama. Commodores from Alabama include: OL Joey Bailey (Trussville), WR Earl Bennett (Birmingham), DB Joel Caldwell (Hoover), TE Justin Green (Troy), LB Chris Johnson (Birmingham), S Reshard Langford (Tanner), DE Kikko Logan (Elba), QB Chris Nickson (Brundidge) and QB Larry Smith (Prattville).
VANDERBILT QUICK HITTERS
Vanderbilt improved to 3-1 with a 30-7 victory over Eastern Michigan and has won back-to-back games for the first time since last September ... The Commodores have played all four of their games at home so far this season ... WR Earl Bennett has 198 career receptions and is just 11 receptions shy of becoming the SEC's all-time leader, and three catches away from setting the school record ... Bennett ranks fifth in the NCAA in receptions (9.3) and seventh in receiving yards (117.0) ... Vandy's offensive line features five seniors who were all starters last season ... The Commodores are ranked 11th nationally in pass defense (157.5) and 17th in both scoring defense (16.3) and total defense (279.0) ... Senior LB Jonathan Goff ranks third among all active SEC players in career tackles with 228 ... Vanderbilt tied a school record with seven sacks during a victory over Ole Miss.
ON THIS DATE
Auburn owns an all-time record of 8-3 in games played on Oct. 29, and has won six in a row. Auburn's last appearance on Oct. 6 came in 2001 when the Tigers beat Mississippi State 16-14. Auburn has not lost on Oct. 6 since falling to the Bulldogs 20-0 in 1945. Included in the streak of six straight is a 44-31 upset of No. 14 North Carolina State in Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1979.
Auburn is 284-143-18 (.658) all-time in the month of October, including a 19-12 mark under Tommy Tuberville. The Tigers are 20-6 in their last 26 games in October.
Auburn will honor its 1957 national championship team during Saturday's game against Vanderbilt. The team will wear their white road uniforms and helmets with no AU logos and gray facemasks, similar to what the 1957 team wore at home games.
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.
CENTURY MARK APPROACHES
Tommy Tuberville needs just one more win to amass 100 victories during his career as a head coach. Tuberville currently owns a career record of 99-51 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).
The strength of Auburn's schedule so far this season was apparent last weekend, as South Florida, now ranked No. 6 in the AP poll, knocked off then-No. 5 West Virginia, and Kansas State, now ranked No. 24, won at then-No. 7 Texas. In all, the five opponents Auburn has already played have a combined record of 15-3 in games not involving Auburn, and three of the five are nationally-ranked, including two in the top 10.
Auburn achieved a new school first with its 20-17 victory at No. 4 Florida last Saturday. It marked the first time in school history that an unranked Auburn team won a road game against a team ranked in the Associated Press Top 5. The Tigers had been 0-8 in those games prior to the victory over the Gators.
Including neutral site games, it was Auburn's first win as an unranked team over an AP Top 5 team away from Auburn since defeating No. 4 Tennessee, 10-6, in Birmingham, in 1972.
Including neutral site games and road games, prior to Saturday's win, Auburn was 2-21 all-time when unranked and playing an AP Top 5 team.
TOPPLING THE TOP TEN
Auburn's 20-17 victory at No. 4 Florida allowed the Tigers to keep an impressive streak alive, as the Tigers have now beaten at least one Associated Press Top 10 team every year for the last seven years, which is the longest streak in school history. The Tigers have 14 victories over Top 10 foes in those seven seasons.
The streak started in 2001 with a 23-20 victory over No. 1Florida. In 2002, the Tigers beat No. 10 LSU (31-7) and won at No. 9 Alabama (17-7). In 2003, Auburn beat No. 7 Tennessee (28-21), then beat the new No. 7 team, Arkansas, the following week (10-3).
In 2004, Auburn earned wins against No. 5 LSU (10-9), No. 10 Tennessee (34-10), No. 8 Georgia (24-6) and No. 9 Virginia Tech (16-13). The 2005 season included wins against No. 9 Georgia (31-30) and No. 8 Alabama (28-18), and in 2006 Auburn beat No. 6 LSU (7-3) and No. 2 Florida (27-17).
TIGERS TOUGH ON TOP TEN
Auburn has won nine of its last 10 games against teams ranked in the Associated Press top 10, including a 20-17 win last Saturday against No. 4 Florida, and wins last season against then-No. 2 Florida and then-No. 6 LSU. The Tigers have won five 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 15-10 in games played against top 10 teams, and has won 15 of its last 20 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 19 games against top 10 teams.
WINNING IN WHITE
Auburn may be looking forward to its next road trip, as the Tigers have won their last 13 games when wearing all white, including a 20-17 victory at No. 4 Florida last Saturday. 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 second-best record in games played away from home (road or neutral site games). The Tigers are 18-5 (.783) since the start of the 2003 season outside of Jordan-Hare Stadium, trailing only USC (26-4, .867), with Boise State and LSU (21-6, .778) in third. In SEC games, Auburn has won seven straight road games, and is 13-1 against SEC teams outside of Auburn since the 2004 season.
One of the keys to Auburn's victory over Florida was the Tigers' ability to control the ball. Entering the game, Auburn had just one scoring drive of at least 10 plays, but against the Gators, all four of Auburn's scoring drives reached double digits in plays. The Tigers' opening drive of 14 plays for 86 yards in 7:32 set new season highs in plays, yards and time. Each of the Tigers' other three scoring drives last 10 plays. Auburn finished the game running 70 plays to Florida's 55, and had an edge in time of possession of nearly six minutes (32:57-27:03).
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 Sept. 22, Auburn forced six turnovers, which was the most by the Tigers since forcing six against Tennessee in 2004. Auburn is +7 (11-4) in turnover margin in its three victories.
Turnovers helped Auburn put 55 points on the board against the Aggies. Prior to that game, Auburn had just 14 points off turnovers for the season. But against New Mexico State, the Tigers totaled 34 points off turnovers.
20 OR LESS
Since Will Muschamp took over as defensive coordinator prior to the 2006 season, Auburn has held 15 of its 18 opponents to 20 points or less. The Tigers, who have allowed just 15.3 points per game since Muschamp's arrival, are 14-1 in games in which they hold their opponents to no more than 20 points.
Since the 2004 season, Auburn has held 34 of its 43 opponents to 20 points or less.
Holding Florida to 17 points, 312 yards of offense and 14 first downs was quite a feat for the Auburn defense. The Tigers held Florida more than 32 points below their scoring average of 49.2 points per game, more than 200 yards below their average of 517.8, and 11 first downs below their average of 25 per game.
In addition, Auburn held Florida scoreless in the first half, becoming the first team to shut out the Gators in the first half since South Carolina led 3-0 at the break on Nov. 14, 1992 in Gainesville.
Junior wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith had a career night against Florida, setting career highs with nine catches for 102 yards. It marked the second straight game in which he set a career high in receiving yards, after totaling 86 yards and two touchdowns Sept. 22 against New Mexico State. Smith, who leads Auburn with 20 catches for 355 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 against the Aggies 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.
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 five games.
True freshman Wes Byrum has made eight field goals in 10 attempts, including the game winner from 43 yards on the final play at No. 4 Florida, and a season-long 49-yard field goal against South Florida. He also resumed the kickoff duties Sept. 22 against New Mexico State and has had five touchbacks in the last two games.
Redshirt freshman Ryan Shoemaker would lead the SEC averaging 46.3 yards per punt, but is one punt shy of the minimum needed to qualify. After Shoemaker suffered an injury against South Florida Sept. 8, his replacement, true freshman Patrick Tatum, averaged 42.0 yards per punt with seven of his 11 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, and was named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week against New Mexico State Sept. 22 after placing all four of his punts inside the 20-yard line and running for a first down on a fake punt.
ON YOUR MARKS
Sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks played a key role in the victory over Florida last Saturday, blocking a field goal for the second time this season and collecting two tackles for losses. Marks, Marks, who has 22 tackles including 4.5 for losses this season, accomplished a rare double the previous Saturday against New Mexico State, collecting an interception and a fumble recovery. He became the first Tiger to intercept a pass and recovery a fumble in the same game since Karibi Dede in 2005 at Arkansas.
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 135 points scored, 111 (82.2 percent) have been scored by freshmen and sophomores. True freshman Wes Byrum leads the team with 39 points, while redshirt freshman Mario Fannin has 24 points and sophomore Ben Tate has 18 points. True freshman Kodi Burns and sophomore Gabe McKenzie haave two touchdowns each, while sophomore Antonio Coleman reached the end zone once.
Auburn has had 24 freshmen (13 true, 11 redshirt) play this season. 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 redshirt freshman punter Ryan Shoemaker.
On Sept. 22 vs. New Mexico State, 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.
Auburn games have not been lacking for excitement this season, as four of the first five games were decided in the final two minutes. Wes Byrum's field goal on the game's final play gave Auburn a 20-17 win at No. 4 Florida Sept. 29. Against Mississippi State Sept. 15, Auburn had a potential game-winning drive stall at the Bulldog 9-yardline with just 48 seconds left. The Tigers' other loss against South Florida 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.
COX LEADS ALL SEC QBs IN WINS
Brandon Cox earned his 21st career victory as a starting quarterback during Auburn's 20-17 victory at No. 4 Florida. Cox, who is 21-7 as a starter, leads all SEC quarterbacks in career victories. Tennessee's Erik Ainge is second with 19, followed by Kentucky's Andre Woodson (16).
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 (27th, 307.8), scoring defense (29th, 19.0) and pass efficiency defense (29th, 109.24), while ranking 31st in rushing defense (113.0).
SECOND QUARTER SUPERB
The second quarter has been Auburn's best quarter this season, as the Tigers have outscored their opponents 48-16 during the period. Auburn has outgained its opponents 468-302 in the second quarter and has scored during the second quarter in all five games while shutting out its opponents during the quarter three times.
GROVES LEADS NCAA IN CAREER SACKS
Senior Quentin Groves is the NCAA's leader among active players in career sacks with 25, although that claim is in jeopardy following a foot injury suffered against Florida that could keep him out of the lineup for an undetermined amount of time. USC's Lawrence Jackson is second nationally with 24 sacks, followed by Tommy Blake of TCU with 20.
IN A RUSH
Auburn accomplished some rare feats in a victory over New Mexico State Sept. 22 that echoed a 2005 victory over Kentucky. Both Ben Tate (111 yards) and Mario Fannin (103 yards) went over the century mark, marking the first time that game 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.
In addition, Fannin rushed for three touchdowns, becoming the first Auburn back since Irons in that same game at Kentucky 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.
PICKING AND GRINNING
Senior cornerback Jonathan Wilhite returned to the lineup against New Mexico State Sept. 22 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.
SIMS STEPS UP
Junior defensive tackle Pat Sims has come up big in a pair of Auburn victories this season. Sept. 22 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 with 5.5 tackles for losses this season, and also has 12 tackles, a sack, two pass break-ups and eight quarterback hurries.
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 74-31 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.
ON THE RUN
True freshman quarterback Kodi Burns saw his first game action when he entered the Mississippi State game Sept. 15 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.
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 five games has shown why. Groves leads the team with six tackles for losses, which is tied for seventh in the SEC, and has 22 tackles, including a career-best nine against South Florida. Groves also has two sacks, a forced fumble and 18 quarterback hurries through five 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).
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.
SENIOR SIGNAL CALLER = SUCCESS
With senior Brandon Cox back for his third season as Auburn's starting quarterback, 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.
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).
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 45 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 44 games each, while King Dunlap, Josh Thompson and Patrick Lee have seen action in 41 games. Zach Gilbert is next with 40 games played, followed by Carl Stewart (39), Leon Hart (38) and Brandon Cox (36).
Brandon Cox had a streak of 24 consecutive starts at quarterback snapped Sept. 22 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 five games this season. Seniors Quentin Groves and Josh Thompson, junior Rodgeriqus Smith and sophomore Sen'Derrick Marks all have started the last 18 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 55 consecutive games, which is 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 331 of its last 333 PATs.
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 25-12 in games decided by seven points or less and has won 13 of its last 17, including all five games last season.
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 Pittsburgh 8 7. Ole Miss 5 USC 5 Virginia 5 10. Memphis 4 TCU 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.
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 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 64-5 when scoring 20 or more points in a game, including a 62-4 mark in the regular season. Dating back to 1995, Auburn is 85-12 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).