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This Time They're For Real
AUSTIN MURPHY
November 08, 2004
After failing to live up to their top billing last year, the revitalized Auburn Tigers have dominated the SEC this fall--and are clawing at the door of the BCS title game
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November 08, 2004

This Time They're For Real

After failing to live up to their top billing last year, the revitalized Auburn Tigers have dominated the SEC this fall--and are clawing at the door of the BCS title game

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Ah, yes, Borges: the toast of the town, the Hawaiian-shirt-sporting savant who has unleashed the powers of Auburn's offense. When Tuberville hired him from Indiana to be his fourth offensive coordinator in four years, the politest response he got was some head-scratching. "It was gutsy of Tommy to hire me," says Borges. "I'm sure there were some sexier candidates."

Borges, a disciple of the West Coast offense, had been the coordinator at UCLA for four years in 2000 when, feeling in a rut, he took the same job at Cal. It was like stowing away on the Lusitania. The Bears went 1-10, and he and the rest of the staff were fired. Borges spent the next two years as the coordinator at Indiana, the basement of Big Ten football.

After Tuberville hired him, one of the first things Borges did was meet with Brown and Williams, his stud backs. He assured them that he wasn't about to turn Auburn's offense into a passing circus. His version of the West Coast offense, Borges told them, was balanced. He would even put them on the field at the same time, line them up as receivers, throw them more passes than they'd ever seen. It sounded like fun. On the final day before underclassmen could declare for the 2004 NFL draft, Brown and Williams met with Tuberville and told him they'd both be returning.

"That," says Tuberville, "was a good day."

How would Borges and Campbell work together? After all, this would be the quarterback's fourth coordinator. Borges came to see that as a plus. Campbell had been "inundated by such a potpourri of offenses," says Borges, that he had little trouble understanding what the new guy taught him. "His learning curve wasn't steep."

Borges has emphasized precision in the passing game, and Campbell, always an accurate passer, has lapped it up. "What I'm trying to do with the kid is keep him grounded in fundamentals," says Borges, "to allow him to play so he's not afraid to make a mistake. He's got a little more of a 'Let 'er rip' mentality this year."

With a no-name defense shutting down opponents; with Cadillac and the Hummer tearing it up on the ground; with Campbell letting 'er rip, the Tigers are 9-0 for the first time since 1994. At Auburn, the Future is now.

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