Tuberville says AU headed in the right direction

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 2, 2002

Special to The Star-News

BIRMINGHAM -- Last season was a disappointment for the Auburn Tigers. Auburn began the season with a 6-1 record, defeating Florida when the Gators were ranked No. 1 in the nation.

However, real pressure and real controversy did not come until the next-to-last game of the regular season when the Tigers were pounded by in-state rival Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium by a final score of 31-7.

"To lose to them (Alabama) the way we did will put a coach on the hot seat," Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville said Wednesday. "It don't know how hot it really is. It might concern me if we had four or five kids in trouble during the off season or if recruiting had been bad during the past four seasons. But, when you lose to your in-state rival, it can get you in some trouble."

Tuberville indicated there are no real signs anything is wrong with his football team. In fact, he went so far as saying it is in better shape than it has been in a long time.

While young at some positions, Tuberville said his is a relatively deep team and that he, for the first time, is very confident.

"Our program is getting better," the coach pointed out. "We are going north, not going south here. We have been our own worst enemy during the past two seasons, but right now we are in pretty good shape. I think we have a really good chance to compete with every one we play this season. That's not something I've said in the past because I've been concerned. It will be interesting to see how this team develops over the next few weeks."

Tuberville indicated some specific things, including key returning players. Most notably, he needs consistent play from his quarterbacks.

"That's it, that's one of the things which will determine how well we do," Tuberville added. "Both quarterbacks have the same athletic qualities. We just need to find the one who is going to be the best leader and who will be the most consistent. Both guys had their moments last season when they played well, they also had times when they didn't."

The Tigers finished tied with LSU for the West Division title.

However LSU defeated Auburn in the regular season to

earn the SEC West crown.