AuburnSports.com's Monday Morning Quarterback will be out each Monday during the season. This week, several former Auburn players give their thoughts and opinions on the Tigers' win over UTC.
Former Auburn quarterback Ben Leard On the game "I'm very happy to see what Cam Newton did (15-of-21 passing for 317 yards, three touchdowns) as far as throwing the football. He also had a touchdown on the ground. He continues to amaze. Terrell Zachery made a great run after catch on the long touchdown, but Cam made some phenomenal throws. Darvin Adams had a great catch. Some of the things they did in the passing game are really going to pay dividends these last few weeks of the season.
"Everybody has begun to see that Auburn's offense is strictly running the football. It's like running a trick play, a reverse, at any point in the season. From there on out, everybody that you play after the fact, has to prepare for that. Whether or not you execute that play, or whether or not you run that play anymore the rest of the year, it has to be prepared for, and therefore that defense, the opponent's defense, will have to prepare for it and not what is your true strength. That's the chess match of college football.
"I think Cam did a great job not jeopardizing his health running the football too much. He made plays when he needed to. We were able to execute. The game wasn't in question as soon as Auburn ran out of the tunnel, but the biggest thing was to maintain healthy in all facets."
On back-up quarterbacks Barrett Trotter and Neil Caudle "I thought both of them did a great job. Neil made a great run. I think Auburn is in a situation where they have two kids in Trotter and Caudle, and even Moseley, having watched those guys in practice, even without a Cam Newton, Auburn would be in good hands. Now, Cam is head and shoulders, not only that of a Neil Caudle or Barrett Trotter, but of every other quarterback in the country. I don't want to be disrespectful to the other kids on the Auburn roster, but Cam is just that good."
On Trotter or Moseley taking over after Newton "Without a doubt, there is no doubt in my mind, Auburn will be in great hands. At this point, it looks like it would be No. 14 (Trotter), just because he's currently the No. 2 guy, the guy the coaches have seen him execute day in and day out, during scrimmages, in the offseason, to have enough confidence in him that if something happened, he would go in and make a play.
"I have all the confidence in the world in what Trotter can do. He's a playmaker. He's been that way since he was playing at Briarwood Christian. He can make plays. I don't see that being any different when he gets in the spotlight for the Tigers."
On the running backs "They keep plugging. The strength of this offense is on the ground. (Mario) Fannin had some good runs. (Michael) Dyer continues to progress, and don't lose sight of the fact that he's just a true freshman. He's done a phenomenal job. I really think the coaching staff, the offensive staff, should be commended on how they've managed this kid and his playing time this season. He hasn't hit that freshman wall. He continues to get better. I think these coaches have enough foresight to know they were going to need him to be at his peak come Georgia and Alabama, and hopefully the SEC title game."
On 'Amen Corner' "I can't help but get excited. This is why you come to Auburn. You've played LSU. You've played Arkansas. You've played South Carolina. And not to take anything away from those victories, but who really cares? When it comes down to these two games, this is it. This is why you choose to come to Auburn. This is the oldest rivalry in the South, Auburn vs. Georgia, and then the Iron Bowl, which doesn't need an introduction.
"When you look at Auburn's roster, look at how many players come from Georgia. This is a huge game for these Georgia kids. I get hairs standing up on the back of my neck just thinking about it."
You can listen to Leard and Robert Shultz Sundays from 4-6 p.m. CT on In the Trenches.
Former Auburn defensive back Rob Pate: Thoughts on the game... "When you play a game like that, you really go into it ready to surrender a lot of yards through the air because they are going to get behind and sort of abandon the run. really and truly, you give them the short stuff...you make them dink and dunk it, and feel like your front seven will dominate and make things easier on you in the secondary. I think they only gave up a little over 200 yards passing, so I thought overall they must have played pretty well considering UTC wasn't trying to hammer down on the run. You look at how fast we scored and how often our defense had to be on the field, we must have done some good things."
On the mentality of a backup when they get opportunity to play... "It's more about effort than understanding. In a game like that, you aren't going to be running some sort of exotic defense. You are not going to be showing your hand or tipping your hand. It's a matter of showing your athletic ability and showing your heart and desire that you will stick your head in there up 30 or 40 points."
On the matchup against Georgia... "Obviously you have a player like AJ Green that nobody with our squad will matchup with him, so it's matter of pressuring the quarterback and making him throw it sooner than he wants to. We're good enough to run with anyone they have offensively, it's just a matter of being confident enough to make a play when the ball is in the air. It comes back to knowing we have the offense, that if I gamble and lose, they will have my back. I don't think it's as bad of a matchup as Arkansas or South Carolina was, but it's a difficult matchup nonetheless. They will be playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of desire."
On matching up against AJ Green... "You have to account for him. IT slows down your secondary in helping on the run. Those safeties have to focus on play action and help those corners, so they may be a step late in filling an alley against the run. It puts pressure on the linebackers to get off blocks and not rely on the safety to be the eighth man. Anytime you have a guy that is rangy and can go up and get the ball, it challenges you to be as athletic as you can be. Anything thrown in his direction, he feels like he should come down with it. You have to communicate really well with what you are going to do...you have to get those things ironed out in practice this week and be able to play with a lot of confidence as far as the game plan goes."
On not letting emotions interfere with playing sound football... "You've got to be able to channel that in the right direction. You want to play with that reckless abandon, but as a secondary guy, you have to be cautious as well. If you are just flying around out there but you are flying in the wrong direction, you get yourself that much further out of position. Coaches are good at that using that early on in games, using misdirection, it will be like that for both sides. I think we've been in enough big games this year, to feel like we're confident that we can handle ourselves in a pressure packed game like that."