Auburn, Ala.--Allowing just 126 yards and three points in the second half and holding Mississippi State to just 326 total yards and 17 points for the game Coach Will Muschamp said his Auburn defense took a step forward on Saturday, but that’s not enough for the fiery coordinator.
Wanting more out of guys at every level of the defense, Muschamp said the performance was a solid step for the Tigers when he asked the front seven to contain Dak Prescott and make him throw the ball to win. While it didn’t work to complete success the plan was something Muschamp said the guys executed and that was good to see.
““There's no question it should give us more confidence and understanding what playing within the scheme and system can do for you,” Muschamp said. “We did a really good job of executing the plan. We didn't want him to hurt us with his legs because he hurt so many people over the last three years with the quarterback run game, scrambles and things. I thought our guys did a really good job of constricting the pocket and that's really what we asked them to do. Very unselfish game plan for our defensive line to play the way they played.”
Getting just one turnover in the game was something Muschamp said has to change for this defense. Even though the goal is always to shut down the opponent at every turn when that doesn’t happen the best thing is simply getting the ball back to your offense.
“We need to do the things we've got to do to win the game,” Muschamp said. “Let's get the ball off them one more time. Let's make another third down stop. Let's create more momentum for our football team in the first half when our offense was moving the ball. Those are the things I look at that we need to do a better job of.”
Now 2-2 on the season and facing a San Jose State team featuring a 300-yard rusher last week in Tyler Ervin, Auburn is a team looking for something positive to happen. Muschamp said before that can take place on the field it has to start from within and he believes this team has the guys to do just that.
“You have to rely on the guys within the football team that you know you can rely on, that you know they're all in to what you're trying to do, and what you're trying to do with the program,” Muschamp said. “We have those guys on this football team. You rely on those guys in the locker room. As a coach you can't be around them all the time.
“We want to stay upbeat, we want to stay positive and continue to improve the team. That's the message from Coach Malzahn all the way down to everybody in the organization. It's about improvement. We did make improvement from last game to this game, but did not get the results. That's the bottom line.”