Auburn, Ala.--Following its first shutout since 2008, the Auburn defense enters Saturday’s Iron Bowl against top-ranked Alabama as one of the top in the country. Seventh in scoring defense (14.3 ppg), 17th in rushing defense (117 yards per game) and 18th in total defense (334.5 yards), Coach Kevin Steele’s group put it all together against outmanned Alabama A&M and that was good to see for the veteran coordinator.
"We challenged the guys to try to improve and create a situation where we could get a lot of meaningful snaps for a lot of folks and they did that," Steele said. "Proud of the guys that they went out and they had it on their mind to get a shut out, which is hard to do in any football game, and they accomplished that. They were proud of it and did a good job of stopping the run and affecting the quarterback.. All in all, it was a good day for Win No. 8."
Getting win No. 9 this week will mean a big-time defensive effort from the Tigers against an Alabama offense that has put up some big numbers this season. With quarterback Jalen Hurts one of the keys to an offense that has continued to evolve under coordinator Lane Kiffin, Steele said this will be a tough week of prep for his defense.
The good news for the Tigers is that they should be in good shape physically for the Iron Bowl. Both Josh Holsey and Darrell Williams were banged up in the win over Alabama A&M and regulars such as Tre Williams, Montavious Atkinson and Carlton Davis were held out to try to give them a break. Steele said that shouldn't be an issue come Saturday however.
"We're in pretty good shape health-wise," Steele said. "I don't think that there's anyone we'll be without. We've got to practice smart but practice with strong fundamentals. A big part of this game will be eye control. There's a lot of moving parts in the offense we'll face, so we'd better get to work and work at a pae that we normally work at. No different than any other week in terms of that. But we'll certainly have to make sure that we've got their attention and are focused."