Tigers Bend But Don't Break

Will Muschamp talks about Auburn's defense performance against a Tulane.

Auburn, Ala.--Giving up 283 yards through the air and allowing 117 yards on the ground by running back Matt Forte, it'd be easy to assume that the Auburn defense had a sloppy day of football. However, many of the 389 yards the Green Wave piled up against the Tigers were against sound defense.

Quarterback Lester Ricard played mistake free football for the most part and hit many throws for big gains even when Auburn had good coverage.

"Today he played awful well," says defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who recruited Ricard to LSU. "The kid has a lot of zip. We said all week and we told our players he can make all the throws, he can zip it, he can put touch on it and he's a big kid.

"When we recruited and signed him at LSU we thought he was a pretty good player then," Muschamp adds. "He just got in a quarterback derby over there and felt like Tulane was the best place for him. The kid played well today and at times we had good coverage."

Auburn mixed up the defensive play calling against the Green Wave offense, but Ricard went down for a sack just one time and didn't throw an interception until late in the fourth quarter.

"We pressured quite a bit in this game bringing five and six at times," Muschamp notes. "We max blitzed them a couple of times and mixed it up rushing four most of the game. We gave up a couple of big plays there especially on our cover two look on the sideline. They hit us in a whole, but hey, the kid made some throws today."

Gilbert returned an interception off a tipped pass 57 yards.

The most frustrating phase of the game for Muschamp was on third downs. Tulane converted 10 of 18 attempts and was able to stay on the field for 29:41 of the clock against a running Auburn team. However, a plus for the Tigers is that they were able to force three turnovers, all of which were momentum and field position changers.

"We gave up some yards and I'm certainly disappointed with third downs," Muschamp notes. "One thing that has been especially frustrating this year is third down and turnovers, for what ever reason. We work on those two parts of the game every day of the week as far as getting the ball out and stopping them on third down.

"They converted some third downs today, which is disappointing, but I was happy to be able to get some turnovers with the way we were able to get the ball out," he adds. "That's a key part of the game."

Tulane receivers Preston Brown had nine receptions for 139 yards and Damarcus Davis had eight for 126 and a touchdown against cornerback Jonathan Wilhite in man coverage. The Auburn defense has allowed three passing touchdowns in the last three games and all have come against Wilhite.

However, it was the only touchdown Tulane scored as they on converted two of four red zone opportunities.

"You give up one touchdown and you and you hold them to field goals," Muschamp explains. "That's part of our goal, is to make sure we do that and we've done that for the most part this season. We've played well down there. That's huge, and again the turnovers were key for us today to be able to get the momentum switched back."

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