AU Coordinator Impressed With Tide Defense

Al Borges is preparing the Auburn offense for Saturday's Iron Bowl matchup.

Auburn, Ala.--Although Auburn has the SEC's top-ranked offense, Al Borges says his Tigers will have their hands full on Saturday as they take on archrival Alabama at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Both teams are battling to stay in contention for the SEC West title and a berth in the league's championship game. The main reason that Alabama has been a factor in the divisional race this year is its defense. Borges, Auburn's offensive coordinator, is impressed with the group that is giving up just 9.1 points per game to lead the nation in that statistic.

"It is the best defense we have seen and that is saying something because we have seen some good ones," Borges contends. The second-year Auburn coach says the Bama linebackers are particularly impressive, but that isn't the only reason the Tide is allowing an SEC low 250.4 yards of total offense per contest.

"That defensive line is very stout and plays the run very well," Borges says. "One kid is a real good pass rusher. The back end (secondary) of their defense is solid. They don't give up many, if any, big plays. Every yard, everything in this game, is going to be earned because we learned last year they are just a really, really good defense. I can't say enough about them."

Perhaps the top player on this year's 9-1 Tide team is linebacker DeMeco Ryans. Borges says he has studied a lot of video of Bama in action this year and notes that the linebacker plays inside in certain alignments and outside in others. "That gives him an opportunity to go sideline to sideline," Borges says. "Coach (defensive coordinator Joe) Kines has got him moving around pretty good, which is pretty much the nature of their defense. He does some blitzing so he gets a chance to cover the whole field unlike a lot of outside linebackers who are kind of forced to cover only half the field."

Linebackers Freddie Roach and DeMeco Ryans are key players for the Tide defense.

Auburn's offense comes into Saturday's showdown with Alabama averaging 442.5 yards per game, which leads the Southeastern Conference by a wide margin. Borges says that he believes a big reason for the success on offense is because first-year starting quarterback Brandon Cox has improved significantly since the opening night loss to Georgia Tech.

"He has seasoned himself pretty well in the last nine games," Borges says of the redshirt sophomore quarterback. "Brandon has come along as quarterback after a real tough first game. He has allowed us the balance to have a productive offense. If you can throw it, you always have a chance because some teams are going to make it hard to run.

"As well as we have rushed the football this year, there have been games where we haven't been able to rush the ball for 200 yards yet we have still been able to move the football. That is all about the quarterbacking."

After taking the day off on Monday, the Auburn players will be back on the practice field on Tuesday resuming preparations for Saturday's game. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m from Jordan-Hare Stadium and the contest will be televised by CBS.

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