Memorable Night For Young Wright

Defensive tackle Gabe Wright discusses his first college start and Auburn's victory over Ole Miss.

Auburn, Ala.--After giving up 17 points and 172 yards on the ground in the first half against Ole Miss, the Tigers' defense stepped up, holding the Rebels' offense to 22 total yards in the decisive third quarter as Auburn pulled away for a 41–23 win.

The Tigers didn't make any major adjustments at halftime, though, according to true freshman Gabe Wright, who earned the first start of his career, finishing with one tackle and one quarterback hurry.

"There weren't a lot of checks, there wasn't a lot of difference," said Wright. "I think it was just our will to win. I think it was just our will to protect the AU. The defense is always going to make a stand."

Wright, who got the start ahead of Kenneth Carter who was less than full speed, said he settled in after the first play of the game, which he credited to a good week of practice.

"After the game I did realize the more snaps you get, the easier it is to play because you're really able to recognize stances, recognize exactly what the team is going to do, and that comes, of course, with a good week of practice, just preparing," Wright said. ""You can't ask for more than to start, and that just comes with great coaches teaching me, and as they say, ‘stop doing that high school stuff' because it's a totally different game out there."

Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said that while he thought Wright grew up against Ole Miss, he still has a lot of room to get better.

"That's a freshman starting defensive tackle in the SEC--that's a pretty big load," Roof said. "I thought he did some good things. I thought he played well, played hard, and I'm proud of him."

Roof was also pleased with the play of senior middle linebacker Eltoro Freeman, who led the team with 11 tackles and two sacks while also forcing his first-career fumble in the first quarter.

"I do think he's coming into his own," Roof said. "He's getting better every week and continues his development."

"He was very, very productive," Roof added." Proud of him, especially for an older player who continues to get better and better. You better see it out of your young players, but sometimes that doesn't happen with your older players, but if you look at his progression as a linebacker he's still kind of a work in progress.

"He keeps getting more productive every week, and he needs to be more productive two weeks from now than he was, and I'm sure he will be," Roof said.

For his part Freeman said he took it upon himself to help the team rebound from last week's loss at LSU.

"We left with a bad taste last week in our mouth coming after a loss," Freeman said. "And I feel it's my job as a senior linebacker to lead my team out there, and that's what I did."

Freeman said he is having fun and is looking forward every week to helping the Tigers bring home the win.

"The main thing we've got to do is make tackles and eliminate big plays, and stop the penalties," Freeman said. "If we stop them from scoring, then we can win."

According to junior defensive back T'Sharvan Bell, who finished the game with four tackles, a sack and returned an interception 41 yards, the Tigers focus on what they do and not the opponent.

"We don't look at the score or anything, we just want to win the game," Bell said. "Any win is fine with us, but in the fashion that we did, it is a good momentum builder going into the bye week."

The bye week is much needed for the Tigers, who have gotten banged up after playing nine straight games.

"This has been a brutal month, and we're really beat up as a football team," Roof said. "Hopefully, we can get some guys healthy this week and take a good, hard look at ourselves and, at the same time, get ready to finish out this season the right way."

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