on October 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

After upset win, Auburn learns how they handle success

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The Auburn Tigers handled adversity and a hostile crowd quite well.

Now, coach Tommy Tuberville gets to find out how his young team deals with success after Saturday night’s 20-17 upset of then-No. 4 Florida.

“That’s always a question mark as a head coach and assistant,” Tuberville said Sunday. “We talked about that today, about how to get over it. For a couple of weeks now, they couldn’t get anybody to talk to them. Now they’re going to be the talk of the campus.

“If we think about it too long, we’ll start this thing over this week and end up talking about how we could have done better if we had gotten this game off our mind.”

The Tigers (3-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference), who appeared headed downhill after losses to South Florida and Mississippi State, won on freshman Wes Byrum’s 43-yard field goal as time expired.

The win by a team relying on a number of youngsters sent the Gators falling to No. 9 in the rankings. It also provided some redemption for Auburn heading into this week’s game against Vanderbilt.

“This team doesn’t lack guts,” said Tuberville, whose team led 14-0 at halftime before the Gators caught up. “That was a gutty performance for four quarters. We were running on fumes at the end but we found a way to get it done.

“It wasn’t a pretty second half offensively, but our defense really rose to the occasion.”

So did quarterback Brandon Cox, who led the final drive and completed 17-of-26 passes for 227 yards after briefly losing the starting job to freshman Kodi Burns.

The game might prove costly to the defense, though. Defensive end Quentin Groves was on crutches with a toe injury on his right foot during the game. Tuberville said he won’t know the extent of the injury until Groves is examined on Monday.

Tailback Tristan Davis, who had just returned following toe surgery, was hurt again and will have a pin inserted in his foot on Monday. He is “probably out indefinitely,” Tuberville said.

However, now the Tigers will get a boost from the return of tailback Brad Lester, who comes back against Vandy following a suspension for academic issues.

Tuberville said Lester has been taking about 25 percent of the snaps in practice behind Ben Tate and Mario Fannin and has participated in full-contract drills.

“We won’t have to worry about timing issues and stuff like that,” Tuberville said. “Brad will be ready to go. He’s looking forward to it. It’s been a long six weeks for him, and he’s excited about playing.”

Tuberville and the Tigers had some eventful final moments. The coach was flagged after vehemently protesting another penalty called for interfering with the Florida return man who fielded a punt.

“I think you’ve got to do what you think’s right for your team, especially in a situation like that where we knew the defense was going to have to go out and make plays,” Tuberville said. “I wanted them to feel like we’re having to fight the world.

“I thought I was right to begin with, but I knew I wasn’t going to change (the officials’) mind. It helped my feelings a lot. I was a lot more calm that last series because I’d already given out of screaming and yelling.”

Florida coach Urban Meyer also called a timeout just before the ball was snapped on Byrum’s winning field goal. The freshman ended up having to make it a second time.

Tuberville said he doesn’t have an issue with coaches being able to call such last-second timeouts before a kick.

“The only problem I see with that is you know you’re going to give him two kicks,” Tuberville said. “In other words, you give him an opportunity to get lined up and get one out of the way, give him a practice shot so to speak.”