Good Start, Horrible Finish for Tiger Defense

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof and key members of the Auburn defense talk about their struggles vs. Clemson.

Clemson, S.C.--After holding Clemson to 34 yards and forcing punts on the first three possessions for the home team, the wheels came off the Auburn defense, which from that point on allowed eight consecutive drives of 60 yards or more, five of which went for touchdowns.

In Auburn's 38–24 loss to Clemson, the defending national champions' first in 18 games, the Achilles' heel for the defense was third down, of which the ACC Tigers converted 10 straight and 14 of 18 for the game.

"We've got to figure a way to get off the field on third down," said defensive coordinator Ted Roof. "I just know that they were able to make the plays that they needed to make on third down to stay on the field and we weren't able to make the plays or whatever.

"It's all of us together," Roof said. "There's no one person; there's no one thing--we're all in this together.

"Even when it did get to third and long, we'd make a mistake or we wouldn't be able to get off the field for whatever reason, and there's certainly a bunch of them," Roof added.

Defensive back Ryan White said he was shocked by the loss, his first while at Auburn, adding that the Tigers have to find a way to get off the field on third downs.

"We hold them first, second down," White said. "It's those third downs that kill us, and it kills our spirit, and when you're on the road, it takes a lot of energy and you need energy when you're on the road.

"I think it's going to open a lot of eyes, and I think people are going to come to practice with a different perspective," said White about the impact the loss is going to have on the team.

Linebacker Darren Bates, who finished with 10 tackles, had a simple explanation for the defense's third down woes. "Just missed tackles,"?he said. "We should have been able to convert all of them. There were just missed tackles on our part.

The Auburn defense was exploited all afternoon through the air by Clemson redshirt sophomore Tajh Boyd, who threw for a career-high 386 yards and four touchdowns. In all, the Clemson offense put up 624 yards of total offense on 92 plays, chewing up the clock with 34 first downs on long, sustained drives.

"I'm responsible for this, and I got to go back and evaluate everything, including myself and what I'm doing and what we're doing--that's all I know how to do," Roof said. "Do what we have to--evaluate and keep working. That's all we know how to do.

"There's no magic pill; there's no magic dose," the third-year Auburn defensive coordinator added. "That's true in most businesses: you just keep working and that's all I know how to do.

"As leader of the defense, I'm in charge of it, I'm responsible for what goes on, and I'm responsible for what goes on out on the field. I've got to do a better job and, once again, we're all in this together and we've all got to do a better job."

The Tigers are now tasked with identifying and finding a solution to what ails the defense before Florida Atlantic comes to Jordan-Hare next Saturday.

For us, we're a bunch of competitors. so we're just going to learn from this," sophomore defensive end Nosa Eguae said. "It hurts now, it does, and it's going to hurt on the road back to Auburn, but tomorrow we're going to watch the film and put this game to rest.

"We're just going to go out there, and this week, we're going to find out what we did wrong on third down, correct it, and next week we're going to get off the field," the defensive end said.

"We've just got to become a group of guys that are willing to do whatever it takes to execute the game call and get off the field, and that's what we're going to go out there and do."

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