Auburn, Ala.--While Auburn’s offense continues to get plenty of talk for its performances in 2014, the backbone of Coach Gus Malzahn’s second season has been on defense.
Allowing just 14.4 points per game and 306.6 yards of total offense following a 41-7 win over LSU last Saturday night, the Tigers must turn around and do it again this week with a trip to face No. 3 Mississippi State in Starkville.
Led by talented quarterback Dak Prescott and a cast of weapons in the backfield and at wide receiver, the Bulldogs have been on fire this season, putting plenty of yards and points on everybody they have faced. For Auburn junior linebacker Kris Frost and his teammates, this is exactly what you sign up for when you come play in the SEC and he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s day-by-day,” Frost said. “You have to punch in and do work and punch out. It’s the grind that we all love. We love to get after it each and every week. We love to play great teams. It brings out the best in us.”
That was the case last week when Auburn got a chance for revenge against LSU after last season’s loss in Baton Rouge. While this year’s version of the Bengal Tigers isn’t a great team, there is still plenty of talent for Les Miles to use, but Auburn shut them down from start to finish on Saturday night.
“I didn’t expect it to be 41-7, but it’s just the game of football,” Frost said. “There are so many different components and factors that go into a game. It really just shows that anything can happen each week.
“It was a great performance by our defensive line as well as linebackers and defensive backs,” Frost added. “We fit gaps well and the defensive backs made some extraordinary plays on the ball in the air. It just goes to show you, when we all come together collectively as a defense what we can do.”
It almost happened without starting linebackers Frost and Cassanova McKinzy on the field. Both were injured the previous week in a win over Louisiana Tech, but that didn’t keep them from playing and playing well against LSU. Frost said even though he played the majority of the snaps in the win it was due to his experience and knowledge of the defense getting him through a week without much work in the gameplan.
“I would say it was around Wednesday when I started feeling better,” Frost said. “I really made strides in the training room each day. I’m noticing that when you are a vet you get into a rhythm of week-by-week talking to your coaches and watching film and watching other guys when they are in at practice. It’s a maturity thing and knowing what you have to do in order to get yourself ready even if you can’t practice.”
Now with the biggest challenge of the season coming up for the defense, Johnson said Frost and company need to continue to improve.
“At this time last year, we were very inconsistent and we have still got some things to work on,” the defensive coordinator said. “Statistically, if you just pull out the play-by-play and look at the drive charts and all that, it's really impressive, but we've got a lot of things that we're not doing as well as we should, and frankly, we were playing a young quarterback.
“This week, we're going to be playing a quarterback who may be the best in the country at running the offense he runs," Johnson added. "It's going to be a whole different deal. He's a veteran. He had about eight starts last year and he's playing really well this year and we're going to be playing at their place instead of our place./p>
"I'm certainly not taking anything away from the effort and the accomplishment of our players," Johnson said. "I think we did a great job and I'm really proud of them, but the test is going to get a lot tougher.”