Sunday Defensive Notes and Quotes

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp talks about the win over Florida and the play of his unit.

After an impressive victory over the fourth-ranked Florida Gators Saturday night on the road, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says he could have made the entire defense the players of the game but decided on defensive back Jerraud Powers and defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks. Both showed up early and often against the Gators on a night when Auburn's defense took Florida's explosive offense out of its comfort zone.

"I think Jerraud tackled well in space," Muschamp says. "He made a lot of plays on the ball. He shows up in all the right spots. He's just playing really well at nickel and corner for us. Really our defensive line as a whole played really well. I'm really pleased with the way they played. As a unit we have a bunch of guys that deserve players of the game. That's what it was going to take to play against an explosive team like Florida. We felt like Sen'Derrick up front caused a lot of disruption throughout the game."

While Powers and Marks were singled out by the coaching staff, Muschamp says that two more defensive linemen played huge roles for the Tigers in the victory. Facing running quarterback Tim Tebow, it was important for the defensive linemen to be very active and he says that's exactly what he got out of his two starters in the middle.

"Josh Thompson played his best game," Muschamp says. "Pat Sims was very disruptive. We told them going in that was going to be the key. If they couldn't get movement inside and they weren't able to run the ball consistently they were going to take their shots with Tebow. He's a good player and they gained some positive yards with him but we didn't feel like they would run him the whole game like they did a week ago. We just had to have patience in the play calling which we did. We just made them bleed for the yards."

A player that didn't have a very productive night on the field but was positive in his return was sophomore linebacker Tray Blackmon. Making just two tackles, Blackmon played for the first time since the season opener and while he made some mistakes and wasn't completely full speed, Muschamp says he did some things well in his return.

"Tray played good," Muschamp says. "He played about 28 snaps and played well in regular and nickel and what we were doing. You've just got to watch his reps because he hasn't done a whole lot in a month and you've got to get him back in football shape. He played well when we was in there. He was physical and played well at the point of attack. He tackled well. That's always a concern when you've had some time off."

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With an injury to starting defensive end Quentin Groves, Muschamp says the Tigers will turn to sophomore Antonio Coleman to start in Groves' spot this week and until the senior returns. Suffering three dislocated toes in the win over Florida Saturday night, Coach Tommy Tuberville says Groves will be out indefinitely but could return as soon as he feels comfortable with his foot. The loss of Groves also means more time on the field for superb freshman Antoine Carter who notes that he's up to 243 pounds.

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Coach Muschamp is always stressing turnovers and Patrick Lee came up with a big interception against the Gators.

Limited big plays is something Muschamp and the Auburn defense talked about at great lengths in the week leading up to Saturday night's contest against the Gators. Giving up two big passes to Percy Harvin, the Tigers weren't perfect but Muschamp says it was enough to get the job done and get the victory.

"It was a good win," Muschamp says. "It was a great team win. We managed the ball on offense and defensively we made some early stops in the game and got some momentum. It came down to the things we talked about, stopping the run. We played the runs very well. We tackled in space. We had five missed tackles in 60-something snaps against an athletic team, which is outstanding. We played pretty well in the red area. We could have had a stop on third down we didn't get. We only allowed three explosive plays of 20 yards against a team that was getting 10 or 12 a game. We limited Percy Harvin in the running game. He hit two balls down the field when we had good coverage but the kid makes good plays. Going into the game the things we talked about as important we were able to accomplish.

"I feel like we had the ability and speed on defense to match what they had to make plays in space and tackle well in space and to play patiently in the game," Muschamp says. "We were able to do that because of our front players because we were able to take away the run with six or seven players in the box. When I saw us being able to control the line of scrimmage as the game grew on we were able to be more patient as the game. They got frustrated because they couldn't make big plays and they are a big play offense. They thrive off chunks of yardage down the field. We were able to hang in there and make them be patient offensively."


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