Defense Comes Up Big In Crunch Time

Defensive coordinator David Gibbs talks about Saturday's win over Georgia.

Athens, Ga.—-The stat sheet from Saturday night's 31-30 Auburn victory over Georgia won't look good for coach David Gibbs' defense, but the smile on his face following the win wouldn't have given you that impression. Despite giving up 446 total yards to the Bulldogs, Gibbs says that when it came down to it his defense made the plays when it had to.

"What a great win for Auburn," Gibbs says. "What a great football team they are. D.J. Shockley played a phenomenal game. With him on the field you can see they are a totally different offense. Not only did he throw the ball well and run the ball well, but he called almost the whole game from the field with the no-huddle. My hat's off to him. Our kids kept fighting. We found a way to win the game. That's the bottom line."

A problem for the Tigers all night was Shockley. It wasn't only during the play where he was at his best, but before the ball was snapped was when he was at his most dangerous. Using the off-week wisely, the Bulldogs went no-huddle for much of the game and allowed the senior quarterback to make changes at the line. Gibbs says that was tough for the defense to overcome at times.

"They're not going to be in many bad plays because they're checking to whatever you're doing," Gibbs says. "Our kids kept fighting. Our kids have great, great character."

Karibi Dede and his teammates celebrate a defensive touchdown.

Much of Shockley's 304 yards passing went to big tight end Leonard Pope. A dangerous receiver and a monster at 6-7, 250, Pope created a mismatch for the Tigers early, but late in the game the Tigers made plays on him at critical times. Gibbs says it wasn't anything special they did different that slowed him down.

"We just started executing what we were trying to get done to begin with," Gibbs says. "He's a great player and we obviously didn't do a good job on him. If they want to throw it to the guy that many times, nobody is going to cover the guy. You can't, he's a physical freak."

Auburn's biggest play on defense Saturday night came following a Kenny Irons' fumble deep in Georgia territory. Looking to make some noise, defensive end Marquies Gunn caused a fumble of his own that linebacker Karibi Dede scooped up and took to the house. Gibbs says that was a huge play for the team on the way to the win.

"It was huge at the time because we were kind of swimming as a team and as a defense," Gibbs says. "They had been moving the ball up and down the field and we found a way to make a play. That's what this game is all about."

In the end the whole was bigger than the sum of it's parts for the defense. Despite giving up several big plays, points, and yards to the Bulldogs, Gibbs says all that matters in the end is coming out on top.

"We got it done," Gibbs says. "It wasn't pretty, but that's a credit to our kids and the quality kids that we have. We just kept pounding the rock and found a way to get it done."

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