Defense Takes Words To Heart

Linebacker Karibi Dede discusses the Tigers, who are preparing for game eight vs. Tulane.

Auburn, Ala.--Karibi Dede does his fare share of talking as a representative of the Auburn football team.

Whether it's weekly interviews with the media or a special invitation to sit in with ESPN's Gameday, Dede is always good for a quote and does a great job when called upon. As well as he did on national television Saturday night, Dede says that it was Tommy Tuberville that spoke the loudest on that night.

"The things he said when we went into the locker room, he was livid," Dede says. "Typically he's not that type of coach to get overly emotional. When we're high or low he's a pretty consistent guy. He came in there and told us that we had been out there 18 plays. He challenged us and said it looked like we were scared. He said it twice. He said, ‘ya'll are scared, you don't want to hit somebody.'

"The last thing he said was something along the lines of if ya'll were defending this country right now we wouldn't have a chance. He said we weren't being tough. It's funny looking back in retrospect, but as players at the time we were like ‘wow.' When we went back out I told the defense we've been out there 18 plays and given up 17 points. We've given up one point for every time we touched the field. The very first series of the second half was totally different."

That wasn't the only thing Tuberville told his team at the half. With the frustration building throughout the first 30 minutes, Tuberville went so far as to suggest something to the defensive line that wasa key for the defensive turnaround.

"Coach Tuberville said ‘D-line forget what you're coached to do. I'm tired of you guys standing up trying to fit the offensive linemen. When the ball is snapped take off upfield and get in the backfield like they're doing to us'," Dede says. "As he said it I thought about them getting pressure on our quarterback by running upfield...

"Sometimes when you get into all this technique and where you are supposed to fit you might be a step slower," he adds. "Whereas if you just take off 100 MPH you might not do everything perfect, but it's so confusing to the offense because things are happening at a quicker pace.

"If you look I think we started to affect the quarterback. I think Leak started to move his feet a lot more. His timing was not as good. His vision wasn't as good. We started sacking him and hitting him and he started to let go of the ball in bad spots."

Tray Blackmon pressures quarterback Chris Leak.

A player who needed no motivation to go at lightning speed was redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon. In his first game after sitting out six games because of a suspension, Blackmon was wide open all night and despite some mistakes also made some big plays for the Tigers. Included in that was a fumble recovery that stopped a Gator drive. Dede says that the energy Blackmon brings to the defense is something that helps everyone no matter if you're on the field or not.

"He's the type of guy that can bring energy throughout the week in practice," Dede says. "He hasn't really been out there because they've been using the reps for guys that are in there. He's just that type of player. He'll hit a guy so hard. He hit a guy real hard and the guy bounced off, but even on that play the guys were looking for the knockout punch and he didn't wrap up. He's a big-time player and can make big time plays."

While Blackmon's play was huge, it wasn't among the top two things to pop into Dede's head when he was asked about game-changing moments. Both came early in the second half as the Tigers held the Gators to a three-and-out punctuated by a Quentin Groves sack. Auburn then followed that up by blocking the punt for a touchdown. Dede says those two plays made the difference Saturday night and gave the Tigers the life to finish off the victory.

"Those two really turned the tide and then the stadium was electrifying," he says. "The fans really helped us out. You could feel the momentum turn. I think going into the half they felt like they had the game under control when in reality our offense was moving the ball and just hadn't gotten into the end zone.

"We knew if we were moving the ball that good if we just played any bit of defense then we had a chance. In the second half we took it upon ourselves to make something happen."

What happened was a 16-0 Auburn scoring advantage in the second half that pushed the Tigers to a 27-17 victory. Auburn improved to 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the SEC with the win going into this week's homecoming game vs. Tulane.

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