Auburn, Ala.--In a loss last week to LSU on the road, the Auburn defense gave up a late touchdown pass that cost the Tigers a win. This time around it was Coach Will Muschamp's troops that carried things the entire way as the Tigers held Ole Miss down in a 17-3 win.
"I was just real pleased giving up just three points," Muschamp says. "No touchdowns in the SEC is just an outstanding job by the kids. They really responded after a tough week last week. I was very disappointed with that, that we didn't get any stops in the second half defensively.
"The kids responded to the challenge tonight of going against a team that has put up some points and moved the ball well against some good football teams and completed balls down the field. We didn't give up any plays down the field. We limited the running game as best we could, especially early in the game."
That limited running game left Ole Miss forced to throw the football more than it had hoped. The result was just 14-28 with one interception for 123 yards. The interception was huge as Patrick Lee picked off Brent Schaeffer in the endzone to protect a 10-3 Auburn lead at the time in the fourth quarter. Muschamp says as a defense Auburn wanted to give the former Tennessee quarterback a chance to make a mistake and that's what he did.
"We wanted to get the edges so I gave a five-man pressure," Muschamp says. "That pulled him up on the boot. We felt like he would throw one to us eventually. That's what he did on the play. He panicked and threw the ball in the back of the end zone and Pat caught it."
Coming into the game, Auburn's first responsibility was to stop the Rebel running game led by powerful Benjarvus Green-Ellis. The Tigers did that job well as Green-Ellis ran for 62 yards on 13 carries and the Rebels had just 70 yards as a team. Muschamp says it was all about playing straight up defense and getting play out of the front four.
"We stopped the run early in the game," Muschamp says. "Our big thing in the game was to be patient in the running game. We didn't want to give them middle field coverage so they could take shots outside. We stayed in split safety and our front seven did a good job stopping the run."
The front four was huge for Auburn's defense as they played in the Ole Miss backfield for much of the day. Defensive end Antonio Coleman (4 tackles, two sacks) and defensive tackle Pat Sims (2 tackles, 1 sack) keyed a front that gave Muschamp just what he was looking for in a performance that could have been better, but was still plenty good enough.
"That's something we've been able to do most of the year when we play teams that throw the ball down the field," Muschamp says. "A lot of teams with these controlled passing games you're not going to get pressure. We did a good job. We were disappointed with a couple of drives here and there, but we got in the red zone and stiffened up."