Holding the high-flying Vol offense to just 293 yards of total offense, over 200 yards off their average coming into the game, Auburn played the game almost to perfection in front of an overflow crowd at Neyland Stadium. Coach Gene Chizik said that the game was one that turned out almost exactly like he would have scripted it and his unit played well throughout the game.
"We talk a lot in the defense about playing within the scheme and not trying to do too much and playing together as 11 people," Chizik said. "I think right now they're really buying into that. They see that if they'll do that good things will happen. Even when bad things happen right now they can regroup and get back and work our defense and work our system within the confines of what we do and good things will eventually happen."
The star of the show for the Tigers against Tennessee was senior safety Junior Rosegreen. One of Auburn's leaders on defense this season, Rosegreen tied a SEC record with four interceptions in one game and also recovered a fumble. Reading the freshmen like a book, Rosegreen came up big time and time again for Auburn.
"I can't think of a guy that's more deserving of that," Chizik said. "He's been around here four years and today was just one of those days. He said after the second series "I can see that quarterback and I know where he's throwing the football". He went and got that ball a bunch today."
The key to winning the defensive battle against Tennessee Saturday night was confusion, and Auburn confused the Vols time and time again. Safety Will Herring had a lot to do with that as he constantly moved from side to side, changed coverages and was all over the field in what could be his best performance to date. He finished the night with 12 tackles and has several big hits. Chizik said the defense was constantly moving and that helped to keep the freshmen off balance.
"We knew what we had to do," Chizik said. "We had to give them different looks and blitz them at different times. Even when Schaeffer came in we had to let them know we weren't going to let them sit back in the pocket and throw the football. That's what you have to do with young quarterbacks."
The Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots have made a living off their no-name defense to the tune of two Super Bowls in three years. Now Auburn's no-name defense is trying to build a reputation as well. Despite the talk about the offense and running game, Chizik said his guys are going to just keep plugging along behind the scenes and try to take the Tigers to the top.
"It's a special group of young people," Chizik said. "They are young. There's not that standout guy, although there was tonight. They're believing that it's got to be done with 11. It can't be done with one guy here or one guy there. We can never rely on that one guy to come up with a play. We've got to do it with 11 and they're starting to buy into that."