Defense Dominates As Tigers Scalp Indians

Auburn, Ala.--Will Muschamp doesn't care about statistics. The only number that matters to him is the one next to the opposing team's name on the scoreboard. With a big zero showing next to Arkansas State when the Jordan-Hare Stadium clock ran out, the Auburn defensive coordinator got what he wanted from his players in the 27-0 victory.

"Our head coach isn't one to worry about style points," Muschamp says of Tommy Tuberville. "He's wanting to worry about winning ball games and that's what we're doing. The big thing is winning the game and keeping them off the board.

"I'm concerned about winning and keeping people out of the end zone," he adds. "That's what our kids did a good job of, especially late in the game. A lot of young kids got to play."

Auburn held a 27-0 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, which gave Muschamp the opportunity to empty his bench. On the Indians' first possession of the quarter they started at their own two-yard line and moved it all the way to the Auburn three. The Tiger defense, with all reserves in the game, made a stand and held the Indians to a field goal attempt. After a botched hold the shutout was still intact.

"It's always good to get young guys in the game and get them some game-time experience," Muschamp says. "There is nothing like playing on Saturday in front of the crowd. You get some of the jitters out."

Led by players like Tray Blackmon and Christopher Browder early in the game, Arkansas State managed just 88 yards on the ground against the Tigers.

"That's what we were looking for," Muschamp notes. "We needed to be able to dominate up front. They hit a run or two here and there, but the kids played hard, played well, we got off the field on third down and we didn't give up many big plays until late."

Patrick Lee and all of Auburn cornerbacks played well in the victory. Lee had a fourth quarter interception that he returned 18 yards.

The secondary also did its part as the Indians only threw for 89 yards. Safeties Lorenzo Ferguson and Brant Haynie played well while being thrown into action because of injuries to Eric Brock, who turned his ankle on the first play from scrimmage, and Tristan Davis, who sat out because of a hamstring injury.

Aairon Savage has also been battling through a shoulder injury, but was forced into action because of the other injuries.

"We're going to have to make some adjustments tomorrow depending on how severe Eric's injury is," Muschamp explains. "I don't know how long he might be out, if he'll be out. I really wanted to hold Aairon today, but then of course when Eric went down that kind of went down the drain.

"Brant Haynie came in and did a good job for us to mop things up for us. Lorenzo played well today. He's a kid who has all the ability, but he's been injured and just hasn't been as consistent as we'd like. He's a guy that's got to play some ball for us."

The shutout was certainly impressive from a defensive standpoint with 91 of the 177 yards coming in the fourth quarter, but Muschamp says that now is the worst time to be content with how his team is playing with Georgia and Alabama on the horizon.

"You're one week away from being an idiot," Muschamp explains. "We're just going to keep coaching them. The kids played well today, we executed well today and we're going to go chop the wood again tomorrow and get ready for Georgia.

"I think we've been making strides all year," he adds. "We had a setback against Arkansas. Have we played well and as consistent as we want to all year? No, we haven't. But we're making strides and we're getting better as a football team."

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