Gibbs Says Defense Must Step Up Its Game

Auburn defensive coordinator David Gibbs talks about the defense and preparing to face a talented Georgia team.

Auburn, Ala.-–Coming off its worst performance of the season in a 49-27 victory over Kentucky, the Auburn defense must step up its game this weekend when the Tigers face the Georgia Bulldogs on the road in a key SEC match-up. Defensive coordinator David Gibbs says that while the team made plenty of mistakes against the Cats, they're moving forward and not harping on that this week.

"I could point out a million things, but it's not worth it," Gibbs says. "At this point it doesn't matter. We've got to go into Athens and play a great football team. We've watched film and corrected mistakes. We're moving on. It's that time of the year where you can't sit around and dwell on it and it doesn't do any good to talk about it."

Many of the mistakes Auburn made came in scramble situations when Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson made plays out of the pocket. That is a concern this week with Georgia's D.J. Shockley expected back after missing the Florida game with a knee injury. Gibbs says that he has no doubts Shockley will play and be at his best Saturday night.

"It's his senior season," Gibbs says. "He's a great competitor. He's waited his turn. They've got to beat us to secure the championship game for them. It wouldn't surprise me to see him run a quarterback draw the first play of the game."

Safety Steve Gandy will see action this weekend against Georgia.

In front of Shockley is the biggest and most experienced offensive line in the league led by senior All-American candidate Max Jean-Gilles. Listed at 6-4, 340 but likely even bigger than that, the Floridian is very physical and Gibbs says he sets the tone for a very physical front five.

"He's a great player," Gibbs says. "I turn on the film from last year and it's the same guys out there. They're huge guys just dominating everybody. I don't know, our little guys, we'll find out Saturday night. They're as talented as anybody in country. If Shockley would have played against Florida I don't think that game would have been in question either."

Georgia also brings several talented backs into the game with both Thomas Brown and Danny Ware averaging over 46 yards per game. As a team the Bulldogs average 170.9 yards on the ground. That means it's important for Auburn's safeties to be active and sure in the tackle department, particularly the duo of Steve Gandy and Eric Brock at strong safety. Gibbs says both will see action against the Bulldogs and both are showing signs of improvement.

"They're two guys that are going to continue to get better the more they play," Gibbs says. "Eric had not played before this season either. They're going to make mistakes. That's just something you have to live with with young guys until they go through this thing. We're going to need them both with all those running backs."

In the first of two rivalry games to close out the season, there is little question the excitement and energy around the campus has taken on a different feel. While that isn't unusual in any season, Gibbs says that as far as he can tell it's pretty much business as usual while the team is on the practice field.

"I have said this since I've been here, these guys practice hard all the time," Gibbs says. "Great tempo, that doesn't always mean you play great as you saw Saturday, but it gives you a chance to prepare the right way. The tempo was good. These guys understand.

"This football team has got enough veterans and enough leadership, they understand. You go out there and if you don't play great you're going to get embarrassed. You can't just play good, you better play great just to have a chance. Hopefully we step up to the challenge."

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