Last week, you got a taste of things to come this offseason as we countdown to kick off on September 1st. This week, the official 100 day countdown to kick off, kicks off. Today’s countdown takes us to the turn of the century when a new era of Auburn football was dawning on the Plains.
After Terry Bowden’s dramatic collapse in 1998, the Tigers stole Tommy Tuberville away from SEC West rival Ole Miss to get things back on track. It was a bumpy first year for Tubs going 5-6 and missing a bowl but 2000 would see the Tigers bounce back in a big way.
In typical Auburn fashion, the Tigers won two close ball games to start the 2000 season, thanks in large part to some late heroics by stud running back Rudi Johnson. On September 16th, Auburn would welcome LSU to the Plains with their shiny new head coach, some guy named Nick Saban. The Bayou Bengals got off to a fast start and jumped ahead with a 10-0 lead after the 1st quarter. But Auburn would come storming back, scoring 20 unanswered points thanks to two Ben Leard touchdowns and two Damon Duval field goals. However, just over halfway through the 3rd quarter, LSU quarterback Josh Booty would connect with Josh Reed for a 45 yard touchdown and all of a sudden it was a one score game again.
Until it wasn’t....
What really stands out about this return is there really wasn’t a breakdown in LSU’s kick coverage. It isn’t like a huge cutback lane opened up or someone over pursued. This is all Tim Carter. He combines his great speed with outstanding vision and perfectly picks his way through LSU’s kick coverage. That cut at the 15 yard line is perfectly timed and allows him to split the defense and break free. When he sees green grass, he hits a 2nd gear and despite having some decent angles, LSU’s defenders can’t bring the man down. It was a huge turning point in the game and helped secure the Tigers a 34-17 victory over Saban’s Tigers.
Auburn would go on to capture the SEC West title though the story doesn’t have the happiest of endings. Steve Spurrier’s Gators would follow their 38-6 beatdown of the Tigers in Gainesville, FL with a 28-6 whooping in Atlanta. Auburn then would lose a 31-28 battle with Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. But the 2000 season is still one of my favorite seasons and this kick return is one of my favorite plays.
100 days till kickoff! War Eagle!