Unlike most games under Tuberville this one got away early as two quick turnovers forced the defense to step up and make plays to keep the Tigers in the game. It didn't happen that way though as running back Brian Calhoun torched Auburn all day along with quarterback John Stocco. Auburn defensive line coach Don Dunn says that he can't put his finger on why the Tigers didn't come out with a fire early.
"Wisconsin just ran the ball and we couldn't get untracked for some reason," Dunn says. "You always look back and see how you prepared and what you do. We didn't really do anything different, we just didn't come to play today.
"Unfortunately you feel so bad for the seniors who have meant so much to this program and won a lot of football games," he adds. "Wisconsin is a good team. They have a good offensive line, a good quarterback, good receiver, and a really good running back. For some reason we weren't ready to go when the game started. I thought we got our legs back under us in the second half. We came out and got the big turnover and got some points. Then we let them get the long drive and score again. For some reason we just weren't ready to play."
Stanley McClover chases down Brian Calhoun in Monday's Capital One Bowl. McClover finished with three tackles, one sack, and one caused fumble.
That was obvious early on as the Badgers 175 yards of total offense in the first quarter alone to take a quick 10-0 advantage. Calhoun did much of the damage with 90 yards on just eight carries. For the day the junior totaled 213 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries. That total is the sixth-most rushing yards given up in Auburn history, something that Dunn says is not acceptable even to a back like Calhoun.
"He's not real big and he hits those holes and with those big linemen it's hard to find him back there," Dunn says. "If you don't know where he is and you don't play great technique and fundamentals he's going to be by you. He's an excellent football player, he really is. It's unfortunate and that's the way it goes sometimes."
The most disappointing aspect of the game defensively among the many problems was the lack of physical play up front by Auburn's defense. Controlling the line of scrimmage, Wisconsin kept the Tigers at bay. Dunn says that although the time off clearly affected the Tigers, it's still no reason to play the way they did on Monday.
"You've got a lot of time," Dunn says. "Sometimes you're out of synch when you get back but Wisconsin had the same amount of time off too. You can't make excuses. We've just got to do a better job. I've got to do a better job. We will. We'll regroup, but you've got to give Wisconsin all the credit in the world. They kicked our butts physically and that's what worries me. I felt like whenever we would get them in third down or a second and long they made the play. I thought we would be more physical."
Auburn finishes its season 9-3 overall with the loss to Wisconsin. Going out with a loss is something Dunn says he wishes didn't happen for seniors Wayne Dickens and Tommy Jackson, but he adds they've set the stage for continued success down the road for the defense.
"The good thing about it is that we've got really good kids," Dunn says. "We'll bounce back. Sometimes when you go to a bowl game you just go to a bowl game. We're at the point now in our program with this staff and these players that we don't want to just go to a bowl game we want to win a bowl game. We could have had four in a row and that would have been great for the seniors, but it just wasn't our day.
"We've just got to regroup and have a good winter, a tough winter, and a physical winter," Dunn says. "Then we need to have a physical and tough spring. We've got some good young players that redshirted. We're losing two great tackles in Wayne Dickens and Tommy (Tommy Jackson). I hate they had to go out like that. They've left a high bar for us."