Holland: Tigers Achieve Goals Defensively

Jake Holland breaks down the defensive keys for the Tigers in the upset victory over South Carolina as Auburn moves to 4-1 and 2-0 in conference play.

Columbia, S.C.--Defensively Auburn accomplished its goals this week. Stopping the run, creating turnovers and third down defense have been a major issues all year. Facing an early season Heisman candidate in Marcus Lattimore, the Auburn defense made gigantic strides in its areas of concern.

"There's no question," Jake Holland said about achieving the game plan in the 16-13 victory. "Holding (Lattimore) to under 100 yards and three or more turnovers. I felt like we got our goals this week."

The Tigers created four turnovers--two picks and two fumbles--held Lattimore to 66 yards on 17 carries and limited the Gamecocks to 2 of 10 on third down.

"We practiced very well this week preparing for them," Holland said. "I really feel like we executed the play calls, and we were able to make our checks well. We were out there having fun.

"I felt like the effort tonight was outstanding," he added. "We were all running to the ball and just making plays. We were all on the same page, we were excited and we were making plays out there."

Holland had six tackles at middle linebacker and caused a fumble on Lattimore. Most of the six tackles he was credited with were third down stops short of the sticks.

Auburn recruited Lattimore heavily, but the night before signing day in 2010 he chose the Gamecocks over the Tigers. Not even halfway through his sophomore season he has seven 100-yard rushing games against 15 opponents not named Auburn.

Against the Tigers he is 0-3 with rushing totals of 33, 84 and 66.

"Any time you can stop somebody's rushing game when that's what they do best, that can be frustrating for them," Holland says. "Lattimore is a good back and I feel like we accomplished our goal of holding him under 100 yards this week. That really helped us win."

Auburn signed Michael Dyer in that recruiting class, who rushed for 141 yards on 41 carries with a touchdown versus the Gamecocks on Saturday. In the two meetings last year he rushed for 100 and 64 yards, both Auburn victories.

By stopping Lattimore the Auburn defense was able to get in favorable down-and-down situations. In the second half defensive coordinator Ted Roof dialed up mostly man-blitz defenses and they worked perfectly. Auburn was able to get pressure on Garcia and he was unable to find anybody before pressure arrived.

"We got great pressure from our D-line even when we weren't blitzing," Holland explained. "I think that helped a lot. We wanted to bring pressure on Garcia as well as stop Lattimore. I feel like those two combinations helped us win.

"We played very hard and were able to get off the field on third down, which was definitely and emphasis too--getting better at that," Holland added. "That allowed us to be more fresh and allowed us to get that pressure on Garcia tonight."

Until the final series of the game when Auburn was playing prevent defense, South Carolina ran just one play in Auburn territory--Lattimore's 15-yard touchdown score.

As Gene Chizik said in his post-game press conference, it was a total team victory for Auburn. Even though the offense struggled to capitalize on field position throughout the game, it scored a touchdown when it needed to the most. The special teams was solid all game, and the defense played great. Roof's unit forced four turnovers, held the Gamecocks to 289 yards and just 13 points.

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