Muschamp Pleased With Productive 2nd Half

Will Muschamp talks about the good and the bad from Auburn's victory over New Mexico State.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn was in a dog fight in the first 30 minutes of the game with New Mexico State. The Tigers led 21-20 at halftime and were threatened because quarterback Chase Holbrook was 20-23 for 207 yards, no interceptions and two touchdowns. However, after intermission the Auburn defense held Holbrook and backup J.J. McDermott to 10-23 for 52 with three interceptions. More important, New Mexico State was scoreless in the second half.

Though there were some misplays by the safeties early, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was generally pleased with the production of the defense after watching the film of the 55-20 victory.

"It was about what we thought last night," Muschamp explains. "We gave them four plays in the first half. We bust the cover 3 zone, (and when) you don't play cover 2 the way you're supposed to play it and you're going to give up plays against a good quarterback and a good passing attack, which they had. We tightened some things down in the second half and played a little better. We played the screens well, we tackled really well in space, we created some turnovers, created some momentum for our football team, scored on defense and that was a positive.

"We've got to get a little better on third down," he continues. "We've got to get better covering them on third down. We had some opportunities there that we certainly could have converted. We have a lot to improve on as always."

The Aggies were 8/17 on third down conversions.

After generating just four turnovers in the first three games, the Tigers came up with six against NMSU. Two of those came on kickoff coverage, but Muschamp was still excited about the four that came when his defense was on the field. Thirty-four of Auburn's 55 points came off New Mexico State turnovers.

"It was good to finally see it," Muschamp says. "We did the same number of ball drills we do every week. Turnovers for a defense are just like fumbles for an offense. You emphasize it, you emphasize it and eventually it's just going to come. Offensively if you're turning it over eventually you're going to stop turning it over. It's just something that's going to happen. I knew we were right on the cusp on several turnovers throughout the year. We just hadn't quite made them. It's just going to be a matter of time before we cashed in on them."

Named by the coaches, the Auburn defensive players of the week were safety/dimeback Zac Etheridge and corner/nickelback Jerraud Powers. The two combined to cause a fumble early in the game that gave the Tigers their first points when Pat Sims scooped and scored.

"Zac has a lot of awareness on the deep part of the field," Muschamp says. "He does a good job playing the ball, he's a physical tackler, he plays our dime when we go to six DBs, he's good at the line of scrimmage, he's got box instincts, he understands leveraging the football and he's tackled well. He's a guy that's going to continue to get better. He's just a freshman. He's got a lot of great ball in front of him and week by week he continues to take a step forward and improve.

"Jerraud is just a productive guy," he adds. "He's a good man-to-man coverage guy we put on 28, the Williams kid last night, (after) we lost him a couple of times in coverage. He covered him very well and (Williams) is an outstanding receiver. He played well in the running game and he tackles really well in the open field. He's a guy that again, we see improvement in his game and his confidence level."

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