Auburn, Ala.--If anyone was paying attention to everything going on with the Auburn football Tigers this week you probably should have seen Saturday's performance against Buffalo coming. Following a physically draining win over LSU last weekend the Tigers turned around and dealt with injuries much of the week.
Saturday Auburn's intensity level was down several notches from the last time out and it showed in the stats. Giving up just three points last week, the Tigers surrendered a touchdown in the second half to Buffalo that left the defense upset with its performance. Coordinator Will Muschamp says that his defense wasn't ready to play Saturday and it showed in their performance.
"I don't buy into letdowns," Muschamp says. "You get yourself mentally and physically prepared to play each week. We didn't emotionally play well. We weren't emotionally into the game like we should have been."
That was the sentiment of many of Auburn's defensive players as one-by-one they talked about the disappointment in their play Saturday. Never mind that they allowed just 198 yards of total offense to Buffalo and sacked the Bulls three times. Defensive end Quentin Groves says the effort and intensity wasn't there from everyone and that's something that needs to be addressed quickly before the Tigers go back on the road.
"We didn't even match their intensity," Groves says. "We had some people focused and some un-focused. I'm not pointing fingers or anything but we came out lackadaisical. We thought we were just going to roll our helmets out there and they were going to lay down for us. We were in for a whole different ball game. We just have to get ready for South Carolina. I know we can't come out that way against South Carolina because the way Steve Spurrier coaches he'll take advantage of every little mistake you make."
Linebacker Will Herring pressures the Buffalo quarterback.
Early on Buffalo did a good job of taking advantage of Auburn's speed on defense and using it against the Tigers. They ran several misdirection plays that went for good yardage against the defense. Muschamp says that while Buffalo did some nice things offensively it should have been recognized by his team.
"They ran the nakeds and boots and misdirections to kind of negate our speed a little bit," Muschamp says. "They did a good job of executing. We need to play better on the play, that's the bottom line. They didn't do anything other than the little misdirection run inside that was anything different from what we had prepared for. We've just got to play with more emotion and enthusiasm than we played with today."
Now the Tigers turn their attention to South Carolina with a quick turnaround for the Thursday night ESPN telecast. Saturday's defensive performance will give Muschamp and his staff plenty of things to work on but he says the main goals for his team were met once again.
"We're 4-0," Muschamp says. "That's the bottom line. When I first was coordinating I got hung up in all these stats. I got hung up in rushing defense and passing defense and total defense. (Just) win games. Do what you have to do to win football games. That's the most important thing. That's the only important thing."