Leading 17-0 at the half most teams would be happy with what they were doing on both sides of the ball, but not Auburn's defense. Chizik used the break to remind his team of the feeling from two years ago, when the Tigers led Georgia for the entire game only to lose on a late touchdown pass from David Greene. This time they were determined to not let history repeat itself.
"I just wanted them to understand at halftime that this game was far from over," Chizik said. "Two years ago it was about the same scenario. It was just a reminder to stay focused and we were starting over again zero to zero. We had to keep playing Auburn defense."
Stanley McClover celebrates a sack of Georgia quarterback David Greene.
Saturday Auburn defense was getting pressure on Greene and keeping out of the big plays. That plan was played to near perfection by a unit that continues to be unselfish and playing as one. Chizik said that keeping Greene uncomfortable was the plan because of his ability to dissect a defense from the pocket.
"We felt like we had to mix up the coverages enough so they would never really know what we were in," Chizik said. "We tried to get physical at the line of scrimmage and mix in and out of things so they really didn't know what tempo to come off the line of scrimmage. We were just trying to get in their heads. Then we said "look, they're going to catch the football and when they do we have to make them pay for it". I can't say enough about the way we played today."
Entering the game as the nation's fifth-rated defense in terms of total yards allowed, the Tigers didn't do anything to harm those stats after dominating Georgia Saturday. After giving up 121 yards in the first quarter, Auburn only allowed 158 the rest of the way and sacked Greene three times to up its league-leading total. Linebacker Travis Williams said that they were determined to keep Greene from beating them and the best way to do that was to keep him guessing.
"Our speed and not sitting back and letting him throw," Williams said. "We had to use our speed. We came after him. When we watched film we didn't see a lot of guys come after him. They would sit back and I guess, playing scared. He would just eat them alive. If you're going to beat us, you're going to have to show us that you can beat us because we're going to come after you."
"Our plan was to at least try to put pressure on him and not let him sit back there and pat the ball," he added. "I think we did a pretty good job of putting pressure on him. We did a good job of getting him rattled, but our fans did a great job with the noise. It was unbelievable out there. We had the 12th man out there. It was almost unfair."
Getting the early lead and then building on it with a second half touchdown, the Tigers were able to pin their ears back against Georgia and bring the heat. That meant that the front four would be able to do what they do best and again they delivered in the clutch. Sophomore Stanley McClover got to Greene as did linebacker Antarrious Williams and even Carlos Rogers got into the mix with his first sack of the season. McClover said this game was all about getting pressure up front and in doing so the Tigers won the game and remain in the chase for the national title.
"This is real satisfying," McClover said. "We had two weeks to prepare for Georgia and I feel like that helped us out a whole lot. Coach Chizik put a great gameplan in and we just did our best to execute that defense. It looked pretty good for us.
"We were coming from every way possible," he added. "We were coming from the middle, outside, every way we could get to him we got to him. That helps us out a lot. I believe that's why we had him so rattled. We came from different places. We've been working on that for two weeks and I'm happy to see that it worked out."
Many pundits around the country thought that a win Saturday on the big stage of national television would be just what Auburn needed to get more votes and possibly move ahead of Oklahoma into second place in the BCS standings. Chizik said that this team is all about playing one game at a time and winning, not trying to impress voters.
"I don't think that we really have that in mind," Chizik says. "The message we need to send every week is that we're going to come to play and play sound, good, solid defense. All those chips will fall where they may, but we really try to steer clear of that type of stuff."