Satisfying Victory For Auburn Defense

Several key Auburn defenders discuss their victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Fayetteville, Ark.--Spencer Johnson was a man at peace with himself and the performance of his teammates after a hard-fought, 10-3 defensive struggle victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Johnson, who ri-injured himself in last year's embarrassing 38-17 loss to the Razorbacks in Auburn, was around for the entire victory to clog up the running lanes vs. the high-powered Razorback offense that had been averaging 37 points and 434.2 yards per contest.

"It's a game the seniors like me are going to remember," said Johnson. "This win is up there. This football team really embarrassed us for two years in a row. For us to go out there and play as hard as we did, and really grow as a football team, it really ranks high on my list."

Spencer Johnson (53) makes a play vs. the Razorbacks.

Auburn didn't really shut down Arkansas as the Razorbacks gained 173 yards rushing on 39 carries, but when the Tigers needed to make a big play, the defense answered the call. "All we were thinking about was keeping them out of the end zone,"Johnson said. "We had a job to do and we went out and got it done."

A year earlier, an injury-plagued Auburn defense was riddled for 426 rushing yards by the Razorbacks. This year Auburn forced the home team to put the football in the air more than it liked. Arkansas threw 28 passes for 168 yards, but wasn't consistent enough with the passing game to put together a touchdown-scoring drive.

"We knew they were going to try to come in and run the ball, but we wouldn't let them do it," senior noseguard Demarco McNeil said. "They weren't able to get anything going on the ground and I think that was a big key to our win."

As Auburn gets ready for game seven vs. Mississippi State, the Tigers still have work to do, McNeil said. "We did a great job of playing the defense that was called, but we need to do a better job of tackling."

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik liked what he saw from Johnson, McNeil and the rest of the defense. "It was a great effort," Chizik said. "I am just so, so proud of the way they played. They played hard, they played all the way down to the wire no matter what the circumstances were. That is what we talk about all the time...keep pluggin', keep grinding."

Cornerback Kevin Hobbs said the Auburn defense was ready to rumble on Saturday. "We were going to go 15 rounds if we needed to," the walk-on said. "They disrespected us by making this their homecoming game.

Game Notes: Linebacker Dontarrious Thomas, who struggled in last year's game vs. Arkansas trying to play with an injury, was much more effective this time out. He was credited with seven solo tackles and one assist. Fellow senior linebacker Karlos Dansby had seven solo stops while sophomore linebacker Travis Williams was right behind with six solos and he forced the only Arkansas turnover of the game with a tackle on QB Matt Jones...Linebacker Caleb Miller was a busy man on homecoming for the Razorbacks. He was credited with 11 solo tackles and one assist. Tony Bua, who is normally a side in Auburn's thorn, was the No. 2 tackler for the Razorbacks with six solos and one assist. He got the only turnover the Tigers made, intercepting a pass thrown by Jason Campbell.

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