By Jay Coulter
You know a football game is boring when the biggest drama is the unveiling of the Verizon Wireless trivia question answer. Auburn’s 17-3 workman like disposal of Ole Miss wasn’t pretty and quite frankly wasn’t a whole lot of fun. But it was effective nonetheless.
Auburn fans shouldn’t draw a lot of conclusions from last night’s win. Tommy Tuberville made the decision early to feed the Rebels a heavy dose of Brad Lester and Ben Tate.
With a defense that again impressed, Tuberville’s game plan was effective and downright sleep inducing. Auburn threw the ball when they had to and it made for a career night for wide receiver Rod Smith.
The former walk-on caught eight passes for 111 yards, including a game clinching 34 yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
Smith said he didn’t know the pass was coming. "I wasn't even supposed to get the ball. They said to look blitz. I turned around and saw the ball coming. I came hard to try to make the play and I made it to the endzone," said Smith.
Tuberville said he intentionally played the game close to the vest on offense.
"We were being conservative, obviously," said Tuberville. "We didn't throw the ball a lot. We felt like we controlled the ball. We wanted to keep our defense off the field. We probably played it close to the vest a little bit too much.
"They are a team that is getting better. They play hard. As I told our guys, we were going to get the hardest game from Ole Miss tonight as anyone has all year because of what happened to them last week.
"They were ready to play. I'm proud of our guys because we were on the verge of scoring a few more points. The red zone kind of hurt us tonight. We weren't that much of an oiled machine on offense. We'll go back to work and try to get better for the next game."
The Tigers avoided injuries problems with the exception of quarterback Brandon Cox. He left the game with a hurt shoulder with about three minutes to go in the first half.
Cox called the injury a slight shoulder separation. He returned for the second half and played the rest of the game.
His playing time next week against Tennessee Tech will be limited, which would have been the case even without the injury.
Tuberville says the Tennessee Tech game couldn’t come at a better time. "It has been a long nine weeks," said Tuberville. "These guys had to get to the top of their game or try to play at the top of their game every week.
"The schedule that we've had has been brutal. There hasn't been any gimmies so to speak. It has been tough. It has been as much mental as it has physical. We have become better. We have become better in the last six or seven weeks. It didn't look like it tonight, but we knew we would get this type of effort."