Sept. 27, 2004
By ELIZABETH A. DAVIS
AP Sports Writer
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Four yards. That was Tennessee's rushing total at Auburn last season.
The 10th-ranked Volunteers head into Saturday's Southeastern Conference matchup against No. 8 Auburn with bad memories from a year ago.
So far this season, Tennessee's offense has been more balanced, with the run and pass opening opportunities for each other. The Vols (3-0, 1-0) are leading the SEC with an average of 263.3 yards rushing.
Last season, Tennessee had to ditch its running game early and rely on passing after Auburn (4-0, 2-0) went ahead 14-0 in the first quarter. The Tigers ended up stopping the Vols' late rally to win 28-21.
"It was terrible sitting there watching. It was terrible - the feeling afterward," Tennessee tailback Gerald Riggs said Monday about last year's game.
Tennessee's Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis combined for 14 yards on nine carries against Auburn last year.
Quarterback Casey Clausen negated almost all that by netting minus-10 yards rushing as he was sacked five times. Clausen finished 30-of-47 for 355 yards.
Meanwhile, the Vols couldn't stop Auburn on the ground. The Tigers rushed for 264 yards led by Carnell Williams' 185 on 36 carries.
"It wasn't just the running game. They did a nice job of executing everything," Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer said. "We better anchor down this year or they'll do it again."
The duo of Williams and Ronnie Brown remain the Vols' main concern this year. Williams is fourth in the SEC with an average 98.8 yards a game, followed by Brown with 89.7.
Auburn scored on its first two possessions in last year's game. The Tigers drove 80 yards to go ahead 7-0 on Brown's 6-yard touchdown run. Then they went 85 yards for another touchdown, Jason Campbell's 29-yard pass to Ben Obomanu.
"I remember us coming out with a lot of fire. That's the most fired up I've seen this team since I've been here. I don't know what it was, but we were riding high," Auburn center Jeremy Ingle said. "The key to that game was jumping on them. We jumped on them, and they didn't know what hit them."
The Vols say they aren't dwelling on what happened a year ago.
"Last year is in the past. I don't even want to think about last year's game," Tennessee safety Jason Allen said. "I can't do anything about last year's game except learn from mistakes and get better."
Trailing early, Tennessee came out passing. The Vols had one carry in the first quarter - Houston's rush for no gain.
The Vols cut the lead to 14-7 at halftime. In the fourth quarter, Tennessee scored two more touchdowns to cap drives that consisted only of passes or sacks.
The Vols had a final chance to tie or win it when they got the ball back with 1:52 remaining after a missed field goal by Auburn.
Clausen got Tennessee to the Auburn 29 after a 15-yard personal foul penalty against the Tigers was added to his 10-yard run - the Vols' longest in the game.
But on the next play, Auburn's Carlos Rogers intercepted Clausen, and the Tigers ran out the clock for the victory.