Jump to content

defense has 'elite' performance


Recommended Posts

Auburn defense has 'elite' performance against Georgia

1 share

Kevin Steele saw the physical signs early on.

"We had the talent on the grass," Auburn's defensive coordinator said of spring practice in 2016, "to become a dominant force and do it on a consistent basis."

The Tigers showed that last season, making tremendous improvements under Steele, but there was still work to be done. Steele saw Auburn headed in the right direction early this season before injuries had an impact, even if statistically the results did not reveal much dropoff.

Against Texas A&M, Steele saw "accountability pressure" from the leadership and the defense's incredible display in Auburn's 40-17 win over then-No. 1 Georgia on Saturday was the culmination of the Tigers working to be an elite group.

"It starts with we want to be a great effort team; we want to be physically and mentally tough and we want to tackle well," Steele said. "All those things were very evident in (Saturday) night's game. We also challenged them that we'd been a good defense, but at some point in time you got to take the next step and go from good to really good to play like an elite defense. They took that challenge very seriously, I think."


Auburn's defense sends message with dominating effort vs. Georgia

Auburn's defense sends message with dominating effort vs. Georgia

Auburn's defense bottled up Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, forcing Georgia to be one-dimensional during the Tigers' 40-17 blowout.


The difference between good and great, in Steele's opinion, is "where you dominate your opponent in a way that play after play after play that it affects the whole game in a major way."

Auburn did that against Georgia on a national stage, holding the Bulldogs to just 230 total yards, including only 46 rushing yards. Steele said there were only four or five missed tackles, which was "amazing" in his view.

"We practiced all week to be the greatest defense ever," safety Stephen Roberts said. "Our team all came together (Saturday) night and had a couple of big stops on third down. Our linebackers fit the run really well and the D-line, it started up front with them. ... That just shows how much of a defense we got. How if all of us come together as one defense, things can happen, like it did tonight with 46 rushing yards."

The performance against Georgia's running game, which entered the game ranked eighth nationally, was stunning. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel combined for 48 yards and thanks to 33 yards Georgia lost on four sacks, Auburn held Georgia to the least yards by top 10 rushing offense of a Power 5 team since 2009.

"That's big-time against that bunch," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "Because they can run the football."

Steele had to go back 25 years to the 1992 game between Colorado and Nebraska, which was also a meeting of top 10 teams, to recall a game he was a part of with such a performance against the run. He was the linebackers coach for the Cornhuskers, who held Colorado to eight rushing yards on 22 carries, though the Buffaloes ended the season ranked 100th in rushing offense.

"I've seen it in my 38 years; I've seen it," Steele said. "But with the way (Georgia has) been running it, 270-something yards a game against good opponents in the SEC, I thought our guys really answered that challenge and probably - I know, if you asked me 38 years from now, which, knock on wood, I'll remember Saturday night."

RELATED: Steele 'needs to be in the finalists' for Broyles Award, Malzahn says

Auburn's defense, which is ranked in the top 20 in nearly ever major statistic, will have a chance to pad those numbers against ULM before facing another major test in the Iron Bowl.

"Now we got to line up and do it again in this business," Steele said. "But at least they know what it tastes like now."

James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...