After shutting down Tennessee's vaunted running game early, the Vols quickly abandoned the ground attack and threw 47 passes on the night. That's something that had Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik scratching his head following the win.
"I'm shocked," Chizik said. "I'm just totally shocked. A team like Tennessee not even attempting to run the football is just something I wouldn't have dreamed in a million years. I'm assuming that they saw we were young in the secondary and that's what they were going to attack. They didn't even attempt to run it on the front seven. That says something good about the front seven, I guess. The kids played hard, they played great. They kept fighting and never gave up. They fought and clawed until the very end and won the game."
Respect is a term that is often thrown around without merit, but it was obvious Saturday night the Tennessee coaching staff decided that running the ball against Auburn's front seven was going to be a waste of time. With tailbacks Cedric Houston and Jabari Davis combining for 14 yards on nine carries, their thoughts were probably correct. No matter how it came about, senior defensive tackle Demarco McNeil said that a game like this one makes you feel good as a defender trying to stop the run first and foremost each game.
"It feels pretty good," McNeil said. "They came out of the gates throwing the ball. Then when they tried to run they were unsuccessful. They went back to the pass because they had a lot more success than they did running. They took advantage of that, but we got the victory and now it's time to move on."
Auburn defenders gang tackle a Tennessee running back early in the game.
One player who may have some trouble moving on just yet is junior defensive end Bret Eddins. Known for his solid play against the run, Eddins was a terror on the pass rush Saturday night with two sacks of Tennessee quarterback Casey Clausen. For the game the Tigers sacked Clausen five times for 28 yards in losses. On the season he had been sacked just eight times in four games, but the Tigers were able to get some pressure up front and in particular Eddins did the job Saturday night.
"Bret did a great job for us," Chizik said. "He's gotten back healthy and he's just moving around good. He had a couple of huge plays for us. He was just enormous in this game and it was great to see him back."
Another factor in Auburn's win might be overlooked by many, but senior Reggie Torbor has been a part of a lot of games in the last five years and said Saturday's crowd was as good as he can remember. Without an empty seat in the house, the overflow crowd was into the game from the opening kickoff and the Baton Rouge native said that he can't explain how much it meant to the team in the win over the Vols.
"The crowd was really great," Torbor said. "I don't think I've heard a crowd like that since I've been here and I've been here a while. That dates back to when we beat Florida when they were number one. It was just great for them to have to take so much time to make their checks. The quarterback couldn't hear. It was like we were playing with 12 players out there."
While his numbers were down during the game, Torbor said as long as the team wins he's not concerned about personal statistics or goals. A veteran and leader of the defense, Torbor perfectly summed up the attitude that allows this defense to play and perform like they did Saturday night.
"We're all in this together," Torbor said. "One person doesn't get the win. The whole Tiger family gets the win."