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 Ole Miss.
Former Auburn quarterback Ben Leard will be back on Monday Morning Quarterback next week. Leard is currently on vacation. You can listen to Leard and Robert Shultz Sundays from 4-6 p.m. CT on In the Trenches.
Former Auburn center Joe Cope: On the offensive line against Ole Miss "Bottom line, it was another dominating performance. The line is clicking right now. It's like a piece of art, almost like watching a dance. Everything and everybody is coming together, really working as a unit. They are doing good with their combo blocks of the linebackers, really just working together as a unit. There are a lot of individual performances that form one great overall performance.
"With the senior leadership they have, those seniors have been on the team, playing together, all of the practices, the walk-throughs, the meetings, you would expect a line to come together and do that. And this line has. It's really impressive to see an offensive line with high expectations come together and do well.
"The guys have their assignments down. They are producing. They are getting movement. We are averaging over 200 yards rushing per game. The line has their assignments down, they have their technique down, and they are producing every week.
"Their technique is really what is impressive to me. They look like a sharp, sharp offensive line. As a unit, you couldn't ask for a better line. They are picking up the blitzes. They are really playing well together right now."
Former Auburn wide receiver Brad Smith: On the blocking of the receivers against Ole Miss "Seeing the receivers block as well as they did, and have been, is a sign that everybody is buying in. It's been amazing. The effort, whether it's cut blocking, driving the defender out of bounds, whatever, has been great. The receivers, even though they don't get the ball, are still going 100 miles per hour. That's hard to convince everybody to do.
"If you look at the long runs, the receivers' blocking is the reason it's a 70-yard touchdown run and not a 10-12-yard run. But it's a complete team effort, too. The offensive line, the guards are pulling and just mauling their guys. The receivers are on the outside blocking the corners, safeties, linebackers, and then the running backs just have to do what they were given scholarships to do, which is make a guy miss, break a tackle, and go. On McCalebb's two long touchdown runs the last two games, I think he may have been touched just barely on one of them."
On Newton's TD catch from Burns "Everybody talks about what a great catch that was by Cam, but you can't throw that pass any better. You are taught to throw the fade route to the back corner, to try and make it land on the top of the pylon. If there had been a bucket sitting where the pylon was, the ball would have landed in the dead center of it. That was the best throw of (Burns') career."
On Emory Blake "I don't know what it is, but he has something that separates him from the other receivers that are behind him that may have a little more God-given talent. There is something mentally in him that Trooper Taylor has seen that says, 'I'm going to go bust my butt. I'm going to fight and scratch for every yard. I'm going to block my ass off. I'm going to wear out every defensive back and linebacker blocking. I'm going to go across the middle and catch the ball, and when I got the ball, I'm going to get my butt north and south and get every yard I can getting upfield.'
"There isn't anything Emory does that makes you just say, 'wow'. Is he the fastest receiver? Probably not. Is he the quickest? The biggest and strongest? Probably not. But whatever it is he has mentally is enough to be that third spot, to be where Cam trusts him, where Trooper trusts him. That's pretty impressive for a true sophomore. They throw him the bubble screens. They trust him. That says a lot about him."
On Darvin Adams against Ole Miss "He had a very rare drop, but he's still the most clutch receiver. He's not the best receiver in the country. He's not the best receiver in the SEC. But he is as clutch as you get in college football. He's a third-down monster."
On Terrell Zachery "I love 81. Just get the ball to 81. He reminds me a lot of (former Auburn receiver and teammate) Jeris McIntyre. They both are 81. Zachery is built a lot like Jeris, stocky, quick. They are great with the ball in their hands. Zachery is just fun to watch. He's fun to watch with the ball in his hands. Maybe it's something where he had the ball in his hands so much in high school that his mind is preset to make things happen. But he is so dangerous with the ball. He knows what to do. He knows how to make someone miss. He will run over somebody, run through somebody, and get upfield."
Former Auburn defensive end Bret Eddins: On the game "I thought the defense did a really good job. The defensive line did a good job of controlling the run and pressuring (Jeremiah) Masoli and forcing him to scramble or throw on the run. Going up a guy like Masoli, as a defensive end, you want to give him that extra step, make sure and contain him. He's so athletic, though, that he can come up under.
"Besides the one long touchdown run, the speed-sweep, I thought we did a good job of reading their mesh play, reacting and getting people down or closing the gap. With the athletes they had in the backfield, that can be pretty tough."
On Nick Fairley "They went away from him some. Fairley is going to get double-teamed. It's something you just have to react to and fight through it. If they are going to double-team you, that opens up opportunities for the other guys. They will have 1-on-1s and somebody has to start winning. I thought Zach Clayton really stepped up and had a good game."
On Clayton "If he was a basketball player, you would expect 15 points and 10 rebounds from him every night. He's just one of those guys who consistently does his thing. You have to have people like that, a true workhorse. And for his size, he is deceptively athletic. You saw him running down a guy 20-25 yards downfield."
Former Auburn defensive back Rob Pate: Thoughts on the game... "I was extremely impressed. I think it was going to be a difficult game emotionally to prepare for. I thought Ole Miss would come out and prove a point and treat it like their bowl game, but it just never materialized. We respected them enough to prepare and show up ready to fight. Offensively we took what they gave us. We should have silenced the thought that we are a one-man team with the way we ran the ball without Cam Newton having to run the ball. Defensively, we gave up some big plays, but overall we played good enough to win. Good effort overall."
On the play of the defensive backs "Ole Miss tried to test them, but they played well. Demond Washington was in good position on their touchdown catch, but it was just a good catch. Sometimes that is going to happen. On the long touchdown run on the sweep, our safety got caught up in the wash. Other than that, they were aggressive and they are getting better. They are making teams earn everything they get, and when they make a mistake they are there to capitalize on it."
On the importance of Washington's interception in the first half "That was a momentum swinger. At that moment, it probably the biggest play of the game. If Ole Miss scores there, you don't know what happens. We don't turn the ball over a lot, and when we do, we turn around and take it right back so close to the goal line. That's a heartbreaker. I think we went 98 yards and scored a touchdown after that. That was a fantastic play. After that play, I don't think Ole Miss was ever really in the game again."
On the defense's stop on 4th and 1 late in the first half "I know Houston Nutt didn't want to give the ball back to Auburn. I don't think he was trying to score points. I think he didn't want to give the football back to Cam Newton and Auburn where they could score points before the half. To get points at the end of the half when they are trying to run the clock out is fantastic."
On the defense making plays at crucial times "They don't play lights-out defense every single drive, or every game, but they play enough defense to win the football game. That's all you can ask. We'd all love to never allow a 100-yard rusher, or sack the quarterback every time he drops back, but nobody has a defense like that. The biggest thing is you don't have guys that quit. You have guys that hustle. They play four quarters, and they are a group of guys that are opportunistic. They try to raise their level of play to the offense. I've been proud of them. They've grown up a little bit, and it's been good to see them have some success the last few weeks."