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Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Auburn's Campbell quiets critics


AUBURN, Ala. -- Humble and soft-spoken, quarterback Jason Campbell isn't really the type to be vocal about his critics. Perhaps it's evidence of his confidence right now that he took a few gentle shots this week, saying most fans don't see little things like him reading defenses and checking into the right plays.

"People criticize me, but they really don't understand what goes on," Campbell said. "When I get an opportunity to make plays, I make them. I just do my job.

"Talk is cheap. You've got to let your playing do your talking for you."

Not surprisingly, Campbell's stats have improved dramatically with the resurgence of the running game. He has thrown five touchdown passes and no interceptions in the past three games, completing 70 percent of his attempts.

"He's taken some shots over the year and I've never seen him rattled," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I've never seen him lose his composure.

"He's starting to be a little bit more vocal with the offense. I'm just impressed with what he does when he gets to the line of scrimmage on play selection and reading the defense and getting the play called on the right side."

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^TUBBY HEADS HOME:@ Tuberville's hometown is Camden, Ark. He spent the first eight years of his coaching career in the state where his mother still lives when not at the Auburn home he bought for her.

Yet he insists talk about two straight losses to Arkansas and a 2-6 career mark against the seventh-ranked Razorbacks is overblown entering Saturday's meeting.

"I don't even think about it much," Tuberville said. "I think it's talked about way too much in the Arkansas papers and our papers, too.

"It's not another game, because I grew up watching them play. But it all comes down to when we kick it off, they're just a team in a different-colored jersey that we made a gameplan for."

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^TOUGH ROGERS:@ Carlos Rogers broke his left thumb early against Tennessee and still came up with a potential game-saving interception in the fourth quarter.

The pick didn't hurt nearly as much as the ensuing celebration with teammates.

"I guess I was so excited that I didn't think about it at that time," the junior cornerback said. "When I got back on the sidelines, they kept hitting me and pushing me and that's when it hurt."

Rogers had surgery on Sunday but expects to play against the Razorbacks, wearing a cast.

"It was something special for us, and we'd like to thank him for it," linebacker Dontarrious Thomas said. "He stepped up in a bigtime situation and made the play with a broken thumb, and that's the type of play we expect out of him and he expects out of himself."

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CAKES & COCKROACHES:@ According to Tuberville, offensive tackle Mark Pera had the best game of his career. He graded 98 percent and had five pancakes, three cockroaches and 10 rodeos in the Tigers' blocking terminology. Tuberville gladly explains what each term means.

"Rodeo's where you ride him and ride him all the way to the ground," he said. "A cockroach, you've got him on his back, feet and hands straight up in the air."

Still not clear?

"A pancake is just pancaking and he gets back up real quick, but a cockroach, he lays there and his eyes roll back in his head."

Back to Pera.

Hugh Nall, the offensive line coach and coordinator, called it "by far his best game in four years. He had a lot of extra motivation because it was Tennessee."

Pera is a Memphis native who wasn't offered a scholarship by the dominant home state team.