Muschamp Says Third Downs Big for AU

Auburn held Florida to just one of seven third down conversions.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said the biggest change from a dismal first half performance to an impressive second half result was his players stepping up to the challenge of facing a tough Florida defense in the third quarter.

Auburn was burned for 17 first half points, but shut out the No. 2 ranked Gators in the third and fourth quarters.

"We just challenged the kids to go out and play the way they are capable of playing," Muschamp said. "It is real simple. These kids have a lot of pride here. They always have had.

"I knew we were going to play better," Muschamp noted. "I am just happy it happened in the second half and not a week later.

"We didn't play well in the first half and that is my fault. We just didn't adjust. That is something that has happened to us. It is nobody's fault but my fault.

Tray Blackmon (10) and Quentin Groves (54) pressure Florida QB Chris Leak causing a fumble that Blackmon picked up and returned in the fourth quarter.

"We just have got to get them playing faster earlier in the game. Maybe we have to change our routine. I don't know. We have got to look at it."

Florida finished with 279 total yards after netting 191 in the first half. "The big thing in the second half is we had to stop the run and we did that," Muschamp noted. "We prepared for the runs they did--the reverse, the speed option, the handback play. They blocked us and broke them and we didn't contain the ball.

"When we were able to get them to manageable third down and distance situations, we are a good football team," he said. "There is no question that the third downs in the second half were big for us."

Muschamp said he enjoyed the big stage for his players on Saturday night as the Tigers won on national TV with the ESPN College Gameday crew at the stadium. "Our kids play hard and they have a lot of pride. I always like their effort."

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