Auburn, Ala.--This season Auburn had played eight true or redshirt freshmen on defense in the first five games because of injuries to several key players early in the season.
Saturday they added two more to that total against the Vanderbilt Commodores as both Josh Bynes and Ryan Williams saw action for Coach Will Muschamp's troops in a dominating 35-7 victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Both were on the field for the majority of the fourth quarter as Auburn's defense had as many as eight freshmen on the field at the same time. Although they eventually gave up the only touchdown of the day, Bynes says it was huge for them to get experience and play together for the first time.
"It's so much fun," Bynes says. "A lot of us freshmen are coming in trying to add to the depth chart and get some playing time. We're just out here to contribute to the team and do our thing."
This time last week both Bynes and Williams were doing the dreaded redshirt workouts on Saturday mornings instead of getting playing time. With injuries to several players on defense and needing some help, both say Muschamp came to them and said to get ready.
"I learned at the beginning of the week on Tuesday," Williams says. "Coach Muschamp called me and told me I was making plays in practice and looking good so they were going to take my redshirt off. I was skeptical at first because it's so late, but I could come in and make a difference. I feel like I made a difference today."
"It was Sunday after practice," Bynes says of when he was told. "My initial thought was to just come out there and plays. There was nothing to it but just to come out there and do my thing. I just did my thing today."
In their first action both Bynes and Williams finished with four tackles in limited action. Even though it was the first of what both hope is many games for the Tigers, Bynes says getting that first game out of the way was something he was looking forward to.
"I wasn't nervous at all because everyone was telling me when you get your first play it feels the same as practice," Bynes says. "When I first got out there I didn't feel anything different than I always feel."
While Chris Evans will still get the bulk of the action and with Tray Blackmon expected back, Bynes knows he may not see much time, but the experience he received in Saturday's game is something he knows will help him in the long run. Up to speed on the defensive schemes, Bynes says the experience is all he's lacking before eventually he takes on the role of a leader.
"That's going to help me a lot," Bynes says. "With Chris being a junior and Tray being a sophomore, eventually this is going to be my defense. Knowing the plays right now is going to be big heading into the future. I already have a head start on everything."