Coming up with interceptions had been a point of emphasis for the Auburn secondary under a new coaching staff. That concern was quickly addressed in the first quarter.
Therezie's pick of a Connor Holliday pass that he returned 24 yards to the Cougar 24-yard line led to AU's first touchdown of the season, an eight-yard run by Tre Mason. Holsey went high in the air on the final play of the first quarter for the second interception. Therezie's second interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter helped preserve Auburn's 31-24 win.
Coach Gus Malzahn was complimentary of Therezie's play in place of projected starter Justin Garrett at the Star position. It was a game-time decision to sit Garrett and start Therezie who added seven tackles to go with the two interceptions. Garrett had missed several practices with a foot injury.
"He (Therezie) played really good. He played a lot of snaps out there and he was tired, but found a way, especially with that one (interception) late," Malzahn said. "It was one of the critical plays of the game.
"I had to make a big play there," Therezie explained. "We knew as a defense they were going for the end zone right there. We communicated the right read and I made the play."
Holsey went high in the air to pick off a Halliday pass at the Cougar 43 on the last play of the first quarter.
"We've been working hard on interceptions in practice," Holsey said. "I saw the ball and knew I had to go get it.
"I was hoping for a return, but there wasn't any room to run when I came down," Holsey says of his pick and minus two-yard return. "The coaches are putting us in the right positions, we just have to make the plays."
New and Notes:
*Nick Marshall was only one-of-six passing in the first quarter. His lone completion covered 15 yards to Quan Bray to the WSU eight-yard line on a third-and-five situation. Mason rushed for the touchdown on the next play. Marshall only attempted two second-quarter passes with one completion to finish the first half 2-for-8 for 20 yards. He appeared more settled down in the second half by completing eight of 11 attempts for 79 yards . He was 10-for-19 for 99 yards for the game.
*Mason's touchdown ended a streak of 101 straight unanswered points by Auburn against BCS opponents going back to the Texas A&M game last year when the Aggies scored the final seven points of a 63-21 victory. Georgia shut out the Tigers 38-0 and Alabama blanked Auburn 49-0.
*Tre Mason's 100-yard kickoff return for Auburn's second touchdown was the second of the junior's career. He took back a 97-yard return his freshman year against Utah State. Onterio McCalebb went 100 yards in 2012 against Mississippi State for Auburn's most recent kickoff return prior to Mason's 100-yarder.
Mason added 73 yards rushing on 15 attempts to pass the 2,000-yard mark in all-purpose yards. The junior now has 2,181 all-purpose yards. Mason bounced back from a fourth-quarter fumble with Auburn protecting its 31-24 lead with five rushes for 27 yards as coaches show confidence in him.
*Heralded freshmen defensive linemen Montravious Adams and Carl Lawson saw their first college game action in the first half. Defensive end Lawson entered the game early in the opening quarter for a series. A tackle, Adams came in late in the second quarter and recorded a sack for a two-yard loss on his first snap. Adams was a force later in the game with pressure up the middle. He finished with two solo tackles. Lawson wasn't credited with a tackle.
*Corey Grant's 75-yard run for a touchdown in the second quarter was the longest touchdown run for Auburn since Tre Mason's 86-yarder against Alabama A&M last year. It was the first college touchdown for the junior speedster from nearby Opelika, who transferred from Alabama. Grant finished the first half with 99 yards rushing on five carries. He finished with a team and career-high 146 yards on nine carries for an impressive 16.2 yards an attempt.
*Not surprisingly, Auburn's top five tacklers were defensive backs with Cougar quarterback Connor Halliday passing 65 times with 35 completions for 344 yards. Halliday's attempts were the most by an opposing quarterback since Northwestern's Mike Kafka threw 88 passes in the 2010 Outback Bowl. Jonathon Mincy recorded eight solo tackles, followed by Robenson Therezie and Ryan Smith with seven total tackles each. Joshua Holsey and Jermaine Whitehead finished with five total tackles a piece.