Jeff's SEC Journey - On the Plains

One of the state's college teams has four great running backs and a solid defense, but can they put it all together? Jeff's SEC Journey continues as he pays a visit to the plains and tackles the Auburn Tigers.

Sky-high preseason predictions can be a blessing and a curse. They fire up the fans, who buy up the tickets and fill up the stadium. But they can come with a price. In the worst-case scenario, players spend the summer reading about how great they are instead of working out.

A season-opening loss to a highly-ranked west coast opponent dashes championship dreams and the season spirals out of control. It happened 3 years ago at Alabama, where a top 5 preseason ranking resulted in a 3-8 record, and cost Mike Dubose his job.

It's Tommy Tuberville's job to make sure that does not happen at Auburn. "I think we've got a great football team and we've got guys that really believe in themselves. We've got good leadership from our seniors and that's what it takes. It's tough to go undefeated throughout the season, and we're going to have to overcome some tough games, but I think with the character of this team and the attitude, it's not anything they haven't been through before. And so we'll fight every game and hopefully we'll come out on top."

Now in his fifth season on the plains, Tuberville and his staff have recruited every player on the roster, which is loaded with returning starters on both sides of the ball. All the backs are ready to go and believe all the competition is good for the team. Ronnie Brown says, "With the type of people that we have in the backfield, we push each other. I think that kind of makes us better as a group."

Carnell Williams agrees with Brown, "We all bring something different to the table. We all push each other every day."

The Tigers offense says it will be ready and on defense, the decision by Karlos Dansby and Dontarrious Thomas to return for their senior seasons assured Auburn of having two of the top linebackers this side of the super bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs.

"I think we have a lot of potential to be a great defense. We have a lot of guys returning who played last year, so anytime you have good chemistry going for yourself and also a lot of returning starters, you have a good chance of having a good defense," smiles Auburn linebacker Dontarrious Thomas.Demarco Mcneil, a 4-year starter at noseguard, anchors a solid defensive line.

The teams only question marks are in the secondary and kicking game, which are counting on first-year starters.

Auburn people won't have to wait long to find out if this Tiger team can live up to the hype. Southern Cal comes to Jordan-Hare stadium on August 30th. The Tennessee and Alabama games are also at home. But road trips to Arkansas, LSU and Georgia will guarantee that a championship will not come easily.