Defense Getting Better Says Tuberville

Coach Tommy Tuberville talks about his defense and the effort against Arkansas Saturday night in a 9-7 victory.

Auburn, Ala.--Entering Saturday night's game, the Arkansas Razorbacks were the number two rushing team in the country and one of the top scoring offenses in the SEC. By the end of the game against Auburn those numbers were out the window as the Tigers held the Hogs to just 67 yards on the ground and seven points in the win. Coach Tommy Tuberville says at the moment the Tigers are playing well under second-year coordinator Will Muschamp.

"We went into that game with a handful of defenses and it was pretty simple," Tuberville says. "They just let them play. I think the biggest thing about coaching, especially on defense, is knowing your players and knowing when to sic ‘em and not to sic ‘em. Last night was not a sic ‘em night. If you run by one of those guys and they're gone the other way. That's the biggest thing our guys did on defense was they kept their guys in good position where they could make tackles instead of running them out of position. Will has done an excellent job."

Facing the dynamic running back tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, Auburn went into the game with a simple plan in terms of the goals they wanted to accomplish. First and foremost, the Tigers wanted to make Arkansas run East and West as much as possible and not get headed up the field with momentum. The second came down to just one word, but it's the biggest thing for a defense and something the Tigers have excelled in the last month of the season.

"Tackling," Tuberville says. "We have tackled well. If you go back and look at the Florida game they got very few yards after we made contact. Last night there were hardly any. I think they said we missed six tackles. I have never heard of that. I have been on some good defenses before. That's just a credit to the guys for knowing their strengths and weaknesses and being able to focus on the tackle and knowing it might be just them so they better get them down. I thought Jerraud Powers played great at the outside corner. (Eric) Brock played his usual good game. The guys on the outside having to make plays, when their number was called they got it done. It's pure athletic ability and using your fundamentals."

Craig Stevens and Tray Blackmon combine to stuff Felix Jones.

Much of that athletic ability was on display on all three levels of Auburn's defense as up front the line played well and allowed linebackers Tray Blackmon, Chris Evans and Craig Stevens to make the bulk of the tackles. Tuberville says the biggest thing for his defense is always going to be speed and it paid off against Arkansas.

"We've got speed to match teams like that," Tuberville says. "There are some teams when you run that kind of offense you get a mismatch and when you get in the open field you're going to outrun a lot of people. Not a lot of people are going to outrun us. We might not be as big, but we try to be physical. We keep as many speed guys on the field as we can. It's helping that now we're getting a few linebackers back that make the ball go wide. Tray played good and him being in there was a big force last night. Craig Stevens played the best game that he's played since he's been here. They were a tight end oriented team. They ran a lot to the tight end side and he lines up over the tight end."

The one concern this season on defense has been the lack of a consistent pass rush. In seven games the Tigers have just 11 sacks with three coming from sophomore Antonio Coleman. Tuberville says that's something they'll continue to work on, but he likes the overall play of the front four to this point and is looking for bigger and better things out of the defense the rest of the way.

"We've got to get a little more pass rush at times, but they weren't a team that is going to beat you throwing the ball consistently," Tuberville says. "On our defensive front we didn't play as many guys as we should have. We need to get a few more reps out of some of the inside guys. Antoine Carter is playing good. Antonio Coleman is playing good. This group is getting better and better. If we can just stay away from injuries we're going to have a good team before the end of the year on defense."

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