2:30 PM ET, September 4, 2004
Jordan-Hare Stadium, AUBURN, AL
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) -- Auburn's offense produced points and the no-name defense didn't allow any, a flip-flop from last season's awful opener.
Jason Campbell passed for two touchdowns and Carnell Williams ran for 103 yards as the Tigers (No. 18 ESPN/USAToday; No. 17 AP) unveiled a new offense in a 31-0 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday.
The Tigers' West Coast offense sputtered at times but still fared better than in last year's opening shutout defeat to Southern California that set the stage for a disappointing season.
"It's good to come out here and have a little warmup game and see where we're at," Auburn safety Junior Rosegreen said. "Last year, I think we just jumped into the fire with no time to warmup."
It wasn't quite the offensive showcase Auburn fans were hoping for against the overmatched Sun Belt Conference team, but the Tigers saved much of their playbook for Southeastern Conference play.
"We were pretty vanilla today offensively," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "That was just a small glimpse of this offense."
It was a bigger glimpse of Williams, who played into the fourth quarter but never broke a long gain.
He carried 23 times and caught a 9-yard touchdown pass but was mostly contained by a swarming Louisiana-Monroe defense geared toward stopping the run.
"They were playing hard out there," receiver Courtney Taylor said. "Carnell came to the sideline and he was like, 'Hey, I break away from one and they come at me with two or three more."'
Auburn's defense had to replace five starters in its front seven, including most of its stars, but still managed its first shutout since the opener two years ago against Western Carolina. Starting cornerback Montae Pitts was also suspended for the game for violation of team policy before the game, but it didn't matter in this one.
The Tigers improved to 12-0 against Sun Belt teams, allowing few yards after the catch against the Indians' short passing game.
"We really went in with new faces, so we really don't have an identity on defense," linebacker Travis Williams said. "Right now, we're trying to find our identity."
Louisiana-Monroe's Steven Jyles was 16-of-22 passing for only 96 yards with an interception. The Indians had only one pass play over 11 yards, and that 22-yarder came late.
"I don't know if it was how well their defense played or how poorly we played," Louisiana-Monroe coach Charlie Weatherbie said. "It was probably a combination.
"They manhandled us up front."
The Tigers showed a little more ability to get the ball downfield, including Campbell's 32-yard touchdown pass to Devin Aromashodu early in the third quarter after the defender tripped.
Campbell was 11-of-18 for 110 yards but lost a fumble and threw an interception, splitting time with redshirt freshman Brandon Cox. Cox ran for a 14-yard touchdown after hitting Taylor for a 39-yarder on his first pass, the longest gain for either team.
Ronnie Brown also ran for a 30-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
New Auburn coordinator Al Borges' offense scored on its first three possessions to build a 17-0 lead and was marching again when Campbell was picked off by Shelton Williams deep in Louisiana-Monroe territory after getting hit as he threw.
Williams returned it 42 yards across midfield but the drive ended in the first of two missed field goals for the Indians, who also lost their last five games in 2003.
Louisiana-Monroe found a few more positives than from last year's 70-3 defeat that was a low point in a 1-11 season.
"Games against ranked teams will make you or break you," said Jyles, who missed last year's game because of a death in the family. "We came in to see what we had as a team this season. It lets us know where we stand. If we can compete with Auburn, we can win our conference and compete with any team."
Auburn revamped an offense that didn't produce a touchdown in the first two games last season but it's clearly still geared toward the run. The Tigers ran 41 times for 194 yards.
"We didn't hit on all cyliners on the offense at all times, but it was a steady game," Tuberville said. "We got the job done."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-12||9-15|
|4th Down Conversions||2-2||0-0|
|TD||8:55||CARNELL WILLIAMS 9 YD PASS FROM JASON CAMPBELL (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 30 yards.
|FG||3:54||JOHN VAUGHN 43 YD FG|
Drive info: 7 plays, 14 yards.
|TD||11:44||BRANDON COX 14 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||13:19||DEVIN AROMASHODU 32 YD PASS FROM JASON CAMPBELL (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||0:27||RONNIE BROWN 30 YD RUN (JOHN VAUGHN KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 70 yards.