AU Defense Buries Tide Six-Feet Deep

Will Muschamp talks about what it took to beat Alabama in game No. 6 of the streak.

Auburn, Ala.--With an extra week to prepare and regroup, Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp knew the key to stopping the Alabama offense, and his players executed the plan in Auburn's 17-10 Iron Bowl victory.

"Stop the run and take #22 out of the game," Muschamp says.

D.J. Hall, #22, came into the Iron Bowl with 60 catches for 918 yards on the season. His first catch against Auburn was with less than four minutes remaining in the game.

"He's such a good playmaker for them and he's a really good player," Muschamp adds. "Also, if we were able to affect the quarterback, and we were able to do that. Take #22 out of the game and we did that, except that one last drive. The kids really executed the plan well and I'm really proud of them bouncing back after an embarrassing loss to Georgia.

"We rolled the coverage to (Hall) most of the night and we rolled a safety over the top of him. In the two-minute drill they moved him around a little bit and it was a little different situation, so we were bracketing him a lot."

Hall caught three passes for 29 yards on the Tide's final offensive possession, which resulted in a 49-yard field goal.

Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson had thrown for close to 2,500 yards and 15 touchdowns while leading the Tide offense to 386 yards per contest and a season average of 28.4 points.

However, Quentin Groves, Josh Thompson, Pat Sims and the Auburn defense front put pressure on Wilson all night.

"When you play in these games, when you play in the Alabama and you play in the Georgia and you play in the Florida (games), your leadership and your playmakers have to step up," Muschamp explains. "And they did tonight.

"Tray Blackmon played well, Josh Thompson, Quentin Groves," he continues. "Those guys made plays when they needed to make plays tonight. We converted well on third downs and we stopped the run except for a couple here and there and I'm just real proud of them."

Wilson completed just 12 passes for 113 yards, including a game-changing interception intended for Hall near at the end of the first half. Down 10-7, Alabama had the momentum after Brandon Cox threw an interception that gave the Crimson Tide offense the ball at the AU 19-yard line.

Wilson dropped back and lofted a pass to Hall in the end zone in man coverage against Jerraud Powers. He juggled the ball and Powers was able to wrestle away an interception and maintain Auburn's lead into the locker rooms.

"Jerraud has played well all year for us," Muschamp notes. "People don't understand. When people throw a deep ball or a fade and you're in press man-to-man it's a very difficult play to make. I know all of the ‘Auburn DB coaches' out there want to tell us how to get it done. We had the interception there and it was a big play for us."

Alabama got its only touchdown of the day with 11:37 remaining in the second quarter on an 11-play 53-yard drive, which included a third-down pass interference call against Auburn and ended with a two-yard quarterback sneak by Wilson.

"We felt real good in the first half," Muschamp says. "They had the one scoring drive when we had the pass interference call on our sideline--I don't know--on a third-conversion, one of the three they converted all game. And I thought we had a good stop on the goal line and it didn't go our way. We felt great after the first half, came out in the second half and we continued to do a lot of the same things we were doing in the first half. We felt like they were working."

The Auburn offense was unable to extend the game beyond a 10-7 lead until a Cox quarterback sneak with 3:58 to play, which made the score 17-7.

Muschamp's defense held Alabama to just 225 yards for the game, which was 161 below its average. The Tide had 112 yards rushing, 113 passing, and converted on just three of 15 third-down attempts.

A stark contrast in the final result from the Tigers' previous game, Muschamp says he's proud of the way his players responded in the regular season finale and a sixth consecutive win over Alabama.

"It was hard," Muschamp says of regrouping. "It was an embarrassing loss for Auburn and it falls on my shoulders. We can't give up many points defensively and expect to win here. It was an embarrassing loss and I have nothing else to say about it.

"I'm still down about it and it's tough to get over, but our kids are resilient," he adds. "They keep fighting and they keep us up as coaches and I'm just so proud of these kids. They continue to fight, play hard and play Auburn football, and that's run it and play defense. I'm real proud of them."

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