College Station, Tex.--To say the Auburn defense was ready for what Texas A&M brought to the table offensively on Saturday night is an understatement. Facing an explosive offense led by talented freshman quarterback Kyler Murray, the Tigers held the Aggies to just 10 points and 303 total yards in easily their best defensive performance this season.
Picking off three Murray passes, two in the red zone, Auburn kept the freshman off-balance and time and time again confused the Texas A&M offense with a variety of looks. It all led to a huge win for the Tigers in the last road game of the season and the last road trip for several seniors on defense including Justin Garrett.
Coming up just short two weeks ago on the road at Arkansas and then again last week at home against Ole Miss, Garrett said it hasn’t been easy for this team to keep getting up off the mat but that’s exactly what happened against Texas A&M and he couldn’t be more proud.
“It’s hard,” Garrett said. “I’m not sure what the offensive coaches say to the offensive players, but as far as Coach Muschamp he’s on us every day. It’s a position battle and if you lose you could lose your position too. We go out there and grind and work hard. We have a good time.
“We were kind of sad after the loss last week and he came in there and told us ‘this is your last away game’. None of our seniors were thinking about that, the last time getting to wear that white jersey. We all came out Tuesday with a lot of energy and realized our time was ticking down and we had to come out and play the best we can.”
One of the key plays in the game came from Garrett who was once again in the right place at the right time. With Auburn up 14-3 in the second quarter and Texas A&M driving, the Aggies lined up for a second and seven at the Auburn nine yard line.
All week long Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp had been preparing the defense for this very situation and play from the Aggies. Each time the scout team ran the play with the wide receiver giving a fake inside and then breaking back out Garrett said he bit and made a mistake. When it really mattered however he did exactly as he was told, sitting down on the route and picking off a pass to keep Texas A&M off the scoreboard.
“In practice the whole week I kept biting and I wasn’t staying in the hook the way I was supposed to be,” Garrett said. “This time I finally did it right and Coach Muschamp told me ‘if you do it right they’re going to throw the ball right to you’. I was just lucky to make a play. It was all thanks to Coach Muschamp and his coaching.”
Getting a big win that puts Auburn one step closer to bowl eligibility, the Tigers now finally have that signature win the team has been searching for all season long. Putting together four quarters in every phase of the game was a big reason why, but for Garrett and the defense a game like Saturday’s has been a long time coming and they’re happy to see the hard work pay off in the most important of ways, a win.
“It feels great,” Garrett said. “We’ve played hard in every game, all except the LSU game. We’ve played hard and we knew that if we kept fighting and keep working. We work hard every day in practice and the weight room. The team didn’t feel negative or anything, we knew that one game it was all going to click together and we were all going to play good. That has been the mindset, just keep working hard. Nobody had their heads down after any loss, we just knew we were 6-8 plays away from winning the game. That’s all it takes.”