NCF Nation: Auburn 082

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

AUBURN, Ala. -- Cupcake time is over for Auburn.

At least, that was junior defensive end Antonio Coleman's assessment following the No. 10-ranked Tigers' 27-13 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It's debatable whether the Golden Eagles really qualify as a cupcake. They did roll up a school-record 633 yards of total offense in their season-opening win over Louisiana-Lafayette. But they're also not an SEC school.

And it's all SEC from here on out for the Tigers. That is, until they travel up to No. 8-ranked West Virginia on Oct. 23. The Tigers open SEC play next weekend at Mississippi State.

"We know it only turns up from here, but we're going to turn it up, too," Coleman said. "We wanted the shutout and didn't get it. I think we might have lost some of our intensity there in the second half after they scored. You can't do that no matter who you're playing. But two games in, we're playing pretty good on defense and are going to get a lot better."

Southern Miss' 90-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter was a downer for the Auburn defense, and the Tigers didn't finish the game on either side of the ball the way Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville would have liked.

But this is a defense that's going to keep the Tigers in every game they play this season.

"We're playing good defense right now. I want to see us when we start playing great defense," said junior defensive end Michael Goggans, whose development on the opposite side of Coleman has only solidified an already imposing front four.

The Tigers lost a pair of defensive linemen to the NFL last season (Quentin Groves and Pat Sims) and haven't dropped off a bit. If anything, they're even faster.

"Every guy we lost last year, we had a guy to step in right behind him that played almost to the same level they did," Auburn junior defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks said. "We had guys to fill in at each position that we can count on to go out and get the job done."

Auburn held Southern Miss to 37 yards rushing. That's after Southern Miss had 427 yards on the ground last week.

"Holding them to 37 yards [rushing] is huge," Tuberville said. "It forces them to throw the ball down the field. They made some plays, but we also picked a few passes off, and that was the difference in the game."

Jerraud Powers and Zac Etheridge each had interceptions. Powers' was a diving pick on a deep ball after Southern Miss had pulled within 27-13 midway through the fourth quarter.

"We got a little bit too conservative in the second half [defensively], but their receivers are as good as any we'll play," Tuberville said.

Auburn halftime update

September, 6, 2008
9/06/08
2:15
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

AUBURN, Ala. -- This is what Tommy Tuberville had in mind when he brought in Tony Franklin and his spread offense.

The Tigers, after fumbling a couple of promising drives away in the first quarter, really got it going with their passing game in the second quarter and pulled out to a 14-0 lead at the half against Southern Miss.

The second touchdown drive was a clinic in what Franklin wants out of this offense. Five different players touched the ball, and quarterback Chris Todd was able to throw short to his receivers and let them go to work.

There was also a Tristan Davis sighting. The senior running back scored his first touchdown since the 2005 season when he took a handoff out of the shotgun from Todd and scooted 13 yards for the score.

Todd, who's gone the whole way at quarterback so far, didn't really force anything in the first half, although one of his passes was batted deep in his own territory late in the first half. His best throw came on a 21-yard strike over the middle to Rod Smith down to the 2-yard line, setting up Auburn's first touchdown.

Southern Miss has only been able to drive the ball against Auburn's defense once, and that came right at the end of the half. But the Tigers stiffened and forced a 44-yard field goal that was wide left.

As usual, Auburn's defense is fast and active. Everybody knows about tackle Sen'Derrick Marks and end Antonio Coleman. Both are All-SEC caliber players. But watch out for the Tigers' "other" end, sophomore Michael Goggans. He's one of those guys who's always around the football.

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