Auburn, Ala.--After a disastrous start to Saturday’s game on defense that saw Arkansas gain 169 yards on its first 25 plays to take a 14-0 lead, Coach Will Muschamp’s Auburn defense turned things around well enough to give the Tigers a chance to win the game. Allowing just 10 points the rest of the way in regulation and only 191 yards on 39 plays, Auburn’s defense took a step forward in some regards said Muschamp.
“I thought we’ve improved,” Muschamp said. “I’ve said that earlier. We improved a lot playing the run against a very good running team. (Alex) Collins’ longest run was 13 yards, so I thought we made tremendous strides there. I thought again, their third downs are a little skewed because you got four third-and-one situations, which against a team like that. But you know again we battled out butt off, we competed hard in the game and to get ourselves to 24-24 at the end of the game.
“To respond down there to force a field goal, I mean there’s a lot of positives from an effort standpoint, from a leverage and formation standpoint that maybe don’t’ show up as far as the statistics are concerned. But statistically after regulation it’s probably one of our better games too, so there’s a lot of improvement.”
One of the keys to Auburn’s turnaround was again the turnover. This time it came in the form of a Kris Frost interception in the second quarter that turned the tide of momentum in favor of the Tigers. Already down 14-0 and in danger of going down by at least three scores Frost picked off a Brandon Allen pass after Devaroe Lawrence got pressure in the face of the quarterback. Muschamp said it was good to see his guys respond the way they did and that big play started it all.
“I’m disappointed in the loss,” Muschamp said. “There's no consolation prize, so I really like the way our players responded down 14-0 and continued to play better throughout the rest of regulation defensively. I thought we played the runs much better than we've played them all year against a very good running football team. Again, there's improvement there.
“We still have miles to go, but I saw some improvement as far as playing blocks and fits, and things that I thought we did do well in the game. Again, our guys responded. They were down 14-0, battled to get a turnover, offense takes it 96 yards for a touchdown, creates a lot of momentum for our team and we had our countless opportunities there in overtime to make some plays to win the game.
“You're in position on the road in the Southeastern Conference to win the game and that's where we were. Very disappointed with the outcome for our players because they've worked extremely hard and put a lot into this game. Extremely gut-wrenching for them.”
Lawson Getting Closer?
Getting good production from guys up front such as Montravius Adams, Dontavius Russell and Gimel President, Muschamp said he’s hoping to get some good news regarding Carl Lawson soon. Once again making the trip with his teammates, Lawson was moving around well and has been doing some running in recent practices.
Adding that Lawson met with Dr. James Andrews over the weekend, Muschamp left the final say in the matter up to Coach Gus Malzahn, but did note that getting Lawson back on the field would be a good boost for his defense.
“His presence means a lot for our guys,” Muschamp said. “He's certainly a leader on our defense and a guy that is an experienced good football player, a productive football player. Part of being a leader is you've got to be productive. He's a guy that's been there and done that at a high level and continues to provide good leadership to our guys. Certainly, hopefully, if we get him back on the practice field this week it will be a huge bonus for us from a mental standpoint as much as anything.”