Defensive Line Gets The Job Dunn

Defensive line coach Don Dunn talks about the defensive performance against Arkansas

Auburn, Ala.–-It was supposed to be the challenge of the season for Auburn's run defense. Facing an offense that was one of the best in the country at running the ball, could the Tigers slow down the ground game of Arkansas enough to get a victory?

Averaging 286 yards per game coming into Saturday's game, Auburn held the Razorbacks to just 148 yards on the ground with true freshman Darren McFadden picking up 108 of those on 13 carries. Auburn defensive line coach Don Dunn says that holding down the combination of McFadden and Felix Jones was the main focus for the Tigers coming into the contest.

"Our goal was to maintain and hold the running back," Dunn says. "Both of them had over 100 yards the week before. He had 108 or 110 (Saturday night). We would have liked to have kept him under 100, but he's a great back. He's going to be something special in this league when he gets bigger and stronger and learns the game more. I was pleased overall."

Tommy Jackson is the heart and soul of the Auburn defensive line.

Although they held Arkansas to nearly half of its average per game, the Tigers were on pace for a truly dominating performance until a late drive by the Hogs added nearly 40 yards onto the rushing totals. Dunn says that was disappointing to see, but the play of the defense early in the game made up for everything they gave up late.

"Other than that last drive I thought we played well," Dunn says. "I thought we did a good job of going in and holding them to three points after the turnover early. Then we blocked a field goal, which was huge for us. It was the second one we've gotten this year. Will (Herring) did a great job getting up in the middle block.

"Overall I thought they played pretty well because we were real concerned about stopping the run coming into the game because they were number one in the SEC and third in the nation. It was a big win for us. I thought we had a lot more energy the second half and played with a lot more emotion up until the last, after we scored our last touchdown we were disappointed as a defensive staff. We didn't go back out there with the same enthusiasm. I think we got a little complacent."

Complacency could have been a problem, but more than likely it was fatigue for the Auburn defense. The Tigers played 60 plays against the Arkansas offense and noseguard Tommy Jackson played them all. Tackle Wayne Dickens played 50 of the snaps with Josh Thompson getting the remaining 10. Dunn says that while they wore down some, they played very well throughout the game.

"They did well," Dunn says. "I gave them both a letter grade of B. They didn't really hurt us that much inside. They hurt us on a power late when they broke up the middle and we kind of got out of our gaps. Other than that we did pretty well. I thought they would run the ball more inside the tackles. I don't know what their gameplan was."

This week Dunn says you can expect to see sophomore Tez Doolittle get his first action in a meaningful game for the Auburn defense. A player that has come on strong in recent weeks, the physical sophomore earned playing time by his attitude and willingness to put the team in front of his personal goals. Dunn says that is very encouraging to see out of Doolittle.

"The thing that I was impressed about with Tez is that he's grown up a lot," Dunn says. "In the past when he didn't get in the game, immaturity kind of took over. He would sit over and pout a little bit, but this game he was into it. He was cheering the offense, cheering everybody. He was real active on the sidelines.

"That the things you look at as a coach. You see a guy over there pouting and moping it worries you. I told him today (Sunday) in the meeting that I was real proud of the way he handled not getting to play. He's going to have to play though because we've got five tough games left."

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