Disappointing Defensive Performance For Auburn

LSU proved beyond any doubt they are for real with a thorough whipping of Auburn Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

Baton Rouge, La.--What was billed as a battle of two of the best defenses in the SEC turned out to be nothing of the sort as the LSU Tigers dominated Auburn in every phase of the game Saturday night on the way to a 31-7 victory.

Defensively, LSU held the powerful Auburn running game in check and kept the Tigers out of the end zone until late in the game, but it was offensively where the game was won.

Behind the effective play of quarterback Matt Mauck and a veteran offensive line, LSU amassed 381 yards of total offense on the way to the win. Freshman Justin Vincent slashed and dashed his way to 127 yards on just 14 carries on the ground, but it was Mauck that was the difference in the game. In his first career start against Auburn, Mauck completed 17-28 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns and it was his early hot start that put the Tigers on their heels, a spot from which they never recovered.

Reggie Torbor and the Tigers had a tough time with LSU's offense.

"They struck fast and never slowed down," Auburn Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said. "They just pretty much beat us in every conceivable way. We did a poor job of getting them prepared for the game. I'll take it, that's my fault. We have to go back and start all over again Sunday and get things corrected we need to get corrected. We didn't do anything well tonight, the run or the pass. Against a team like this if you're not playing either one of those well you're going to get beat like we did."

Player after player who talked after Saturday night's humbling loss to LSU talked about lack of execution on the defensive side of the ball. Nowhere was that more apparent or more important than one LSU's first possession of the game. On a third and five play from his own 36 yard line, Mauck dropped back to pass and looked first left and then right. When he turned right he saw wide receiver Devery Henderson alone behind Junior Rosegreen. After a simple pitch and catch Henderson took it the distance for a touchdown that sent the LSU crowd into a frenzy. The play set the tone for the night as LSU never looked back on the way to the win.

"The first touchdown was a bust," Chizik said. "From there on it wasn't good. That started the avalanche right there. We got it slowed down in the second quarter, but when you get down 21-0 here you have a long way to go. It was a corner bust and we turned a guy loose over there on the sideline. That's on me."

A player that was all over the field defensively for the Tigers was linebacker Karlos Dansby. Seemingly playing in full speed while most everyone else looked a step slow, Dansby led the Tigers with 11 unofficial tackles with one for a loss. The senior said this was a disappointing way to play in one of the biggest games of the year, but they just didn't get the job done.

"We knew they had speed, that wasn't the thing," Dansby said. "They just executed well today and we didn't. We didn't hit our landmarks in coverages and we just didn't get the job done today. We knew what they wanted to run. They just ran it and executed it well. We didn't execute our defense well at all."

Auburn now turns its attention to practice and getting ready for next week's homecoming game against Louisiana-Monroe. While that was the company line Saturday night, there is little doubt this game will be pondered over for days ahead when Auburn thinks about what could have been. Instead of playing toe-to-toe in a game that could have put them in the driver's seat for a SEC Western Division title, they were outmanned from the opening whistle leaving them to question what happened in Death Valley Saturday night.

"It's frustrating," senior Demarco McNeil said. "We had an opportunity to put ourselves in a good situation and we didn't take advantage of it, but there's always another day. We're just going to go back to work tomorrow, watch the film, improve and go on to the next game."

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