Eager to prove themselves after inconsistency in last week's win over Arkansas when the Hogs scored 20 points, Auburn's defensive players took it upon themselves to get better this week in practice. Chizik said the extra work and the right mental attitude added up to a solid performance against the Wildcats.
"We just felt like we didn't play very well last week," the defensive coordinator said. "Our aim this week was to get back on track and play solid defense and not have any letdowns. We had that one letdown on that long drive and that cost us a touchdown.
"For the remainder of the game I thought they did exactly what we asked them to do. They were in the right places at the right time and played hard. After that one drive we got back to Auburn defense."
The drive was one in which the Kentucky offense drove the ball 80 yards in 14 plays for its only touchdown of the game. Cutting the Auburn lead to 14, the drive gave the Wildcats a little momentum, but it would be short lived. From that point forward Kentucky gained just 20 total yards on 10 offensive possessions. Chizik said he was proud of the way his defense responded.
"We just did some things wrong on that drive and didn't play very well," Chizik said. "But, we got that fixed and I thought we played well the rest of the way. They played well before that and after that. They just didn't play very well on that drive."
Defensive end Marquies Gunn sacks Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson.
Much of the lack of total yardage came because of sacks by Auburn's defensive front. The Tigers totaled eight sacks in Saturday's game with redshirt freshman Quentin Groves getting four and causing two fumbles. Also getting into the action were Tommy Jackson, Marquies Gunn, Stanley McClover, Doug Langenfeld and Christopher Browder, who had a sack each. Chizik said the pressure on the quarterback was a good sign because of the passing teams Auburn has coming up in Ole Miss and Georgia.
"I feel good that we can get pressure on guys without having to blitz," Chizik said. "They did a great job of it today. All four of them up there were pressing the pocket and the defensive ends were coming off and really squeezing everything down inside. They just got some good pressure today out of the four man rush."
Browder and Groves were among the young players that got a chance to see some major action against Kentucky on Saturday. The second and even third units got involved in the game early and played the majority of the second half on defense for Auburn. They even got into the scoring column when Groves caused a fumble that Kevis Burnam returned 15 yards for a touchdown for the final score in the fourth quarter. Chizik said that getting as many different players in the game as possible has been a goal for Auburn this season.
"It's always good," Chizik said. "We've been very fortunate and very blessed that we've been able to play some young guys throughout the year in some of these SEC games. We're lucky to be able to do that. It was good to see those guys in there today."
Auburn now gets ready for a road test at Ole Miss next weekend. The final game in a nine-week run for the Tigers without a week off, the Rebels should be a more formidable opponent than Kentucky in a hostile atmosphere. Chizik said his defense will be ready to play just like it has done all season.
"They respond well and they're very focused," Chizik said. "They really try to respond to what you ask them to do. If we continue on that, it's one thing we're proud of right now. Every week we give them a challenge and for the most part they've responded to the challenge. We'll have another big one next week and they'll have to answer the bell on that one, too."