The only way to begin is with "What a game!" And if there's not a compelling reason for one of our oldest and strongest rivals to be returned to the schedule on a yearly basis, then I don't know anything. We were treated to a couple of heavy weights (and it's been a while since I could classify us as such) going at it toe-to-toe until the final bell. It's beginning to feel that we are returning to the conference A-list once more. And it feels good. A lot of the questions leading up to the game were answered. Yes, their DL was superior to our OL and we struggled to block them. With one notable 88 yard exception, they stuffed the run (but what an exception!). No, Bo Nix would not repeat his dad's success at BHG. Our DL, which played the second fiddle in the lead up kept the pressure on all afternoon. The legacy would have to wait for another Saturday for his notoriety to grow. Yes, our skill speed on both sides of the ball were difference makers. We all know how good the receivers are, but we were wondering just how the secondary would fare. They showed up...in a big way. No, Malzahn wasn't better than his counterpart on this Saturday, despite the feelings of some that he might be the best offensive strategist in college football. Yes, Dan Mullen can coach. I made mention last week that we weren't interested in just giving the Tigers a good game and that winning was what would validate the stage of our program under Dan Mullen. I'm satisfied that we accomplished what we needed to do...for this week! Make no mistake, there's still a lot more that needs to unfold before a final verdict is in, but what a huge step we took. Mullen encapsulated the feeling when he said in his post game conference that "winning a big game would make us want to come back and prepare even harder for a bigger one next week!" This is where we need to be. This is what has been lacking for a decade. *One other question was answered: Is Trask ready for a really big time game! I think it's safe to say that the answer, emphatically, is yes! 19-31 for 234 yards and 2 TD's was big time against a good defense. Though he wasn't perfect, fumbles and staying in the pocket too long sometimes, he was certainly solid and very courageous as well. Coming back from the knee injury made me hear whispers of another Gator great. Not exactly the same scenario, but I couldn't help but be reminded of Kerwin against these same Auburn Tigers in '86. Even though Trask didn't have to come from behind, he showed the same kind of grit and determination. He's still got a ways to go before we anoint him, but he's growing on us. He throws the ball where it needs to be and by all accounts is a good leader. *My hat's off to Perine. I've been critical of him trying to be too much of a speed back and not enough behind the pads, but boy he showed us some speed on one critical play! Even though I still don't think we can make it unscathed without a run game between the tackles, I was glad to have that bounce yesterday. Maybe we're going to be that team that just finds a way? I was looking forward to a good dose of Pierce, but that helmet-to-helmet (or so it appeared) ended that before it began. Hope he's alright. Haven't heard the extent of his injury. *The receivers, especially Freddie Swain in this game, continue their dominance. Looked like they all got mugged pretty regularly yesterday by the Tigers' secondary, or the score might have been greater. I think Mullen did a pretty good job in the preparations of finding ways to get our speed guys isolated on AU's LBs. Kind of reminiscent of what he did as Meyer's OC. *The secondary was obviously up to the mark. Three picks and holding Nix to 145 (which would have been significantly less if not for a blown coverage) was a big statement. Many of the national pundits are talking about our speed on defense. I think we can add growth and toughness to the description as well. They have matured since the beginning and even though they still have some room to grow, they're headed in the right direction. *How about the third and short stops by the D (and one fourth down stop)? We know what we've got on the DL and they were definitely up to the mark, but we got some good play from our LBs. No surprise about Reese, however. Another great game from a defensive leader. He's not afraid to stick his hat on the ball. The lead up might have been Auburn's front, but the real story turned out to be ours (we actually out-rushed the Tigers 132 to 124 even if there's an asterisk by Perine's name!). The D led the way. *Townsend had a great day punting the ball and kept the Tigers pinned. If there is a critique, it's that a couple of punts slipped in the end zone, but he still did a great job and even adjusted on a punt when there was no rush, hesitating before he kicked to give the gunners time to get down to cover. I think the fake punt, however, is not a secret anymore. *I have to admit to getting nervous when Corso picked us. He's usually dead wrong it seems, but he was spot on yesterday along with Herbstreit of all people. Good to see Emmitt and I guess he's still a Gator . Desmond Howard continues to be, well, Desmond Howard. *Got to give Grantham and the D staff a shout for a good game plan. We held the Tigers' rush in tact and didn't give Nix an opportunity to have a second straight game where he was effective through the air. Though we still have some mistakes in assignments (e.g. the blown coverage completion and the ends losing contain), we have shown significant improvement from a consistency standpoint. *The crowd looked electric! I'm certain that it being homecoming (how do you do, Auburn?!) and having the Game Day bunch on campus ramped things up, but from what was seen and a couple of friends that I talked to, the Swamp was like the Swamp of old! Hope it continues! I'm getting a good feeling that we are becoming relevant again and I'm also getting a feeling of consistency in that regard. It's hard to argue the merits of Mullen's coaching abilities today (we can save the recruiting argument for later). His next step will be to find a way to contain LSU's high powered O, in Baton Rouge no less. Next Saturday should make for some good theater. Here's looking at you, Coach O... And Joe Alleva, even though you're gone, I say... Bite me! Until then, a day or so to savor this one (us fans, not the team!) is in order and finding a replay will be a pleasant Sunday chore! Geaux Gators!