Auburn Football: Winners from Tigers' Win vs. Florida
In Saturday's SEC clash between Auburn and Florida, neither team truly resembled the well-oiled offensive machines that have found themselves atop the BCS landscape in recent years.
Both teams struggled to find rhythm offensively, and Auburn came out on top 17-6 in a defensive battle that was more fitting of a Big Ten matchup than an SEC showdown.
With both teams struggling to replace quarterbacks, Auburn still searching to replace the electrifying Cam Newton and Florida playing without injured veteran John Brantley, Saturday's affair turned into a smash-mouth effort.
Auburn, still riding high off of last year's surprise national title run, showed toughness and determination in holding the Gators at bay.
Here are the winners of Saturday's game—those who stood out for the Tigers on a night when few highlights were produced but an always difficult SEC victory was achieved.
Michael Dyer had a workmanlike performance that opened the door for other Tigers to shine.
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The sophomore continues to show that he is more than a product of Cam Newton's presence on the field.
He rushed 23 times for 73 yards in Saturday's win.
While that only amounted to 3.2 yards per carry, his effort was not lost on his teammates and fans.
Auburn's offensive line struggled all night to create holes for the explosive youngster, and he responded by toughing out yards when they often weren't there to be had.
His steady presence kept the Gators honest throughout the game and no doubt opened the door for the few passing plays that were successful for the Tigers.
Auburn's Special Teams: Game Changers
Auburn's special teams created two huge turnovers that turned the tide of the game.
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On a night when an offense sputters and a defense is stout, the difference in the game often comes down to special teams and their ability to flip field position in favor of their team.
Saturday was no exception to this rule.
Twice, Auburn recovered punts mishandled by Florida punt returners, the second of which enabled the Tigers to put the game away.
Ahead 14-6 and holding on for dear life in a one-possession game, Auburn's special teams recovered a punt mishandled by Florida's Ryan Clark with just three minutes remaining.
Auburn was able to capitalize on the turnover and put the game away with a 42-yard field goal shortly thereafter, and the turnover highlighted the importance of special teams in close games.
Gene Chizik's team has shown that they can and will find a way to win through all facets of the game, including the one most often overlooked—special teams.
Clint Moseley Lays Claim to the Starting QB Position
Clint Moseley was able to move the Auburn offense, and may have earned himself the starting role
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The sophomore quarterback, despite Auburn's continued struggles offensively, may have won himself his team's starting job in Saturday's game. Coming off the bench, Moseley was efficient, completing 4-of-7 for 90 yards.
Barrett Trotter, who has been Auburn's starting quarterback all season, was unable to get the offense moving again going just 2-of-8 for 33 yards and a score.
Moseley capitalized on his first opportunity in a big game and won his teammates' trust that the sophomore could get the job done. He completed a few critical passes in the second half and injected some life into an otherwise anemic offense.
Look for Chizik to turn to Moseley more quickly (if not give him the starting job outright) in the near future.
Onterio McCalebb: Explosive
Onterio McCalebb, as explosive as ever, finally found the end zone as a rusher against the Gators
One of the stars of last year's title game, McCalebb has been relatively quiet this season, unable to find the end zone with the rest of Auburn's struggling offense.
Saturday's game may help to turn the tide for McCalebb, as he was Auburn's most explosive presence on the field, scoring his first rushing touchdown of the season.
The void left by Cam Newton is large, and Auburn has struggled to fill his shoes, but with McCalebb's play against Florida proving that the junior can be relied upon to produce in big spots, look for Gus Malzahn to rely more heavily on McCalebb to be lightning to Michael Dyer's thunder going forward.
Auburn's Defense: Came Up Big
Auburn's defense came up big again.
Sure, Florida was without starting quarterback John Brantley and starting running back Jeff Demps, but the Gators are still one of the most talented, explosive teams in the country.
Anytime a defense is successful in keeping the Gators out of the end zone for an entire game—injuries and all—the defense deserves some credit.
Auburn's defensive unit has been criticized much of 2011, but this performance is one they can hang their hat on and build upon going forward in a difficult SEC.