Tigers look to get on track

Published 7:16 pm Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Unbeaten. Ranked. College GameDay.

After a 4-0 start, Vanderbilt football fans are enjoying some perks not usually associated with their Commodores.

No. 19 Vandy (2-0 Southeastern Conference) hopes to keep the party going with a win over No. 13 Auburn at 5 p.m. Saturday, and the Tigers (4-1) will look to get their offense going against a Vanderbilt team that ranks last in the conference in total defense.

“Everybody’s pointed out that we’ve started 4-0 before but didn’t get it done,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said Wednesday during the SEC coaches media teleconference.

The No. 19 Commodores last started 4-0 in 2005 before losing six consecutive games and failing to reach a bowl game. They’ll try to avoid a repeat performance this weekend in a game televised by ESPN.

Auburn’s new spread offense has been the scorn of fans. The Tigers are 10th in the conference in total offense as they average 329 yards and 20 points per game.

Coach Tommy Tuberville said during the teleconference that he is still committed to the system.

“I like the idea of the spread as an old defensive coach,” Tuberville said. “I think it puts a lot of pressure on you.”

Tuberville indicated that quarterbacks Chris Todd and Kodi Burns will both play, as they did in last week’s win over Tennessee. Todd, the starter the last four weeks, hasn’t been as popular with Auburn fans as the athletic Burns. Tuberville said he would “feel good about either one of them starting.”

“When we went to this offense, we went to it because of Kodi Burns,” Tuberville said.

The ‘Dores, meanwhile, are giving up 364 yards a game. That’s the most of any conference team but not enough to convince Tuberville that his team won’t be challenged.

“I know [Johnson] hasn’t won as many games as he’s wanted the last few years, but they’ve been right on the verge,” Tuberville said. “Whenever you play their football team, and this is as long as Bobby’s been there, you know you’re in a battle from play one until the end.”

There would be plenty of excitement about the game in Nashville even without GameDay, but it won’t hurt.

“There’s no doubt that there’s a buzz,” Johnson said then relayed a story about an encounter with some Vanderbilt freshmen. “They were making plans to be there; they were going to have their signs ready.”

– Stephen Dawkins can be reached at stephen.dawkins@clantonadvertiser.com