Defensive Ends Dominate Tide Tackles

Auburn used pressure from the outside and a strong push in the middle to record 11 sacks against Alabama.

Auburn, Ala.--Coming into the Iron Bowl Auburn had hoped to use the quickness of its defensive ends to its advantage against the suspect Crimson Tide offensive tackles.

Eleven sacks later, it's safe to say that the defensive game plan was executed up front.

"From the first sack to the last sack I was just on all cylinders today," said Auburn's Stanley McClover, who led the charge with 3.5 sacks on Alabama quarterback Brodie Croyle. "I was playing off a lot of emotion. This game meant a lot to me and I was playing mostly for the seniors. I wanted to send them out with a bang.

"Coach Gibbs made some great calls that freed me up a lot," he added. "We just took advantage of that and the crowd really helped us out because the O-Line couldn't hear the ball count. If you can't hear the ball count you're in some trouble."

McClover, who had shown flashes of greatness in his two seasons in an Auburn uniform, had undoubtedly his best collegiate performance against the Crimson Tide. After running by offensive tackles Chris Capps and Kyle Tatum countless times for either a sack or pressure on Croyle, McClover drew double teams from tight ends for most of the second half.

"Some of them were lackadaisical," he said of the Alabama offensive line, which was unable to even slow down the Auburn pass rush the entire game. "We just took that and ran with it. If they aren't going to play with emotion then we are. We were at home and we just had a big game."

The junior defensive end from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. said he knew after watching film on Alabama that he and the rest of the Auburn defensive line would have the opportunity to bring the heat.

"I had already told Marquies Gunn from watching a lot of film that they had given up 28 sacks before our game," McClover said. "I just told him it was going to be a game like Kentucky. We just need to get loose and everybody get action, and that's what happened."

McClover had been slowed all season from an ankle sprain suffered in the season opener against Georgia Tech but was obviously running at full speed against the Crimson Tide. He and the rest of the Auburn front seven showed as much intensity against Alabama as they had all year, which McClover said was fueled by trash talk from the other side during the week.

"That's the best game defensively since I've been here," he said. "We just played off a lot of emotion. We stepped up to the challenge. Alabama issued the challenge and we stepped to it and represented.

"Whenever you can beat Alabama four times in a row and that they had only lost one other game this year..." he added about the significance of the victory. "They did a lot of talking. We don't talk, we just come out and play. That really just pumped us up the way they talked a lot. That's why we came out and just handled business."

McClover wasn't the only Auburn defensive lineman who turned in a career performance against the Tide. Senior nose tackle T.J. Jackson, a player not known for his pass rushing abilities, sacked Croyle twice and abused Alabama center Taylor Britt, who filled in for an injured J.B. Closer.

"Whenever you have a guy like Tommy Jackson lining up in front of you--he's a veteran and an All-SEC defensive lineman," McClover said. "It's hard for a freshman (senior Taylor Britt) to come in and try to block him all night."

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