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Tuberville Sees Greatness In Auburn

By Jay Coulter

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville didn’t have a problem seeing the silver lining in the near loss to Kansas State Saturday night. Speaking to the media Tuesday, he even went so far as to say that Auburn has a chance to be a great team.

"We've got a lot of problems like everyone else does in terms of execution, discipline, and fundamentals. We went to work yesterday and today to try and correct these mistakes. We've got potential to be a great football team.

"We're not really there yet, but it's about turning potential into success and getting everybody doing the same thing. Right now, we aren't."

While most Auburn fans are questioning the play of the offense this week, none of us know how good Kansas State really is. That’s the danger of the early season. The consensus this week is that Auburn beat an average Big 12 team. That perception could change in the coming weeks. Kansas State will likely be a factor in their conference race.

So how do we gauge this team? Well you really can’t – not yet anyway. We know the offense struggled, on the ground and in the air. Quarterback Brandon Cox said things were "fuzzy" for most of the second half after taking a shot to the head (there’s no sign of a concussion according to doctors). This explains why he missed a number of audibles that he usually picks up on. Or at least we hope so.

Senior left tackle King Dunlap told reporter Christa Turner of The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer something that has to be disturbing to coaches. Commenting on Saturday’s game where he graded lower than anyone on the offensive line, Dunlap said, "His mind wasn't really in the game."

I think that goes without saying. Anyone watching knew his mind wasn’t on football – either that or he really sucks. Dunlap and his girlfriend had their second child on Thursday, a girl.

Dunlap refused to say that had anything to do with his performance.

That’s a good thing. Take it from a guy who has two children, your mind should be into the game two days after birth. She had the baby, not him. This is not the senior leadership you are looking for, especially when you have two freshmen starting with you on the line.

Speaking of freshmen, Tuberville had praise for the effort put forth by tackle, Lee Ziemba. "Lee played hard from the first snap to the last, said Tuberville. "I think I heard him tell someone that it was the most fun he had ever had. It is going to be even more fun for him once he knows what he is doing.

"As long as you give effort like he gave, he will be a heck of a football player. I think a lot of players, even the older guys, watch him on film and how he plays and blocks three or five yards down field in front of the ball carrier," said Tuberville.

"It’s contagious. You like to see guys have fun playing, but all of them playing for the first time caused us some growing pains, and it cost us in some areas. I think it caused Brandon (Cox) some restless moments in the last couple of nights sleeping. I thought he handled it well."

You read how a guy like Ziemba gets out and hustles from start to finish and then you look at Dunlap, who has all the talent and size in the world, and yet he’s not into the game. Its really makes you sick.

We should get a solid feel for the Tigers by late Saturday night. Auburn will again face a talented sophomore quarterback in South Florida’s Matt Grothe. He’s a quarterback that likes to run. The linebackers will have their work cut out for them again this week.

It will be interesting to see how a banged up football team can respond to a challenge that might be bigger than the one they faced with Kansas State.