Rhoads "Doggone" Pleased After Victory Two

Comments from Auburn's new defensive coordinator, Paul Rhoads, are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads said he was thrilled with his team's first half performance against Southern Mississippi, but was not as excited about how the Tigers played in the third and fourth quarters.

However, after Auburn's 27-13 victory over Southern Miss on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Rhoads was a happy coach.

"I thought they played doggone good for 30 minutes," Rhoads said of the Auburn defense. "The second half, I thought they took their foot off the gas for a little bit, but finished strong and we were very pleased to get three takeaways in the fourth quarter."

At halftime the Tigers had extended their season-opening shutout streak to six quarters against an offense that had racked up 633 yards and 51 points in week one. The Golden Eagles went into their locker room at halftime with just 62 total yards to 230 for Auburn.

"I can't remember one snap in the first half where 11 guys weren't ready to play," Rhoads said of the defense, which he noted was prepared for USM's fast-paced, no huddle style of attack. "We preached and coached hard, and prepared well with urgency all week."

Rhoads said the Tigers won a hard-hitting contest. "That's a good football team," he said of the Golden Eagles, noting that Southern Miss racked up 633 total yards on offense the previous week.

"That's a good football team that knows how to win," Rhoads added. "They have been to 10 bowls in 11 years. I thought our kids responded and played physical and played fast."

The defensive coordinator said it looked like to him as if the defense relaxed "mentally" in the second half, but regrouped and came through with big plays when they needed to as Auburn boosted its record to 2-0.

Rhoads said he wants to grade the film to see if the Tigers improved in their tackling from week one to week two. Jerraud Powers led the Tigers with eight stops while Merrill Johnson, Antonio Coleman and Mike McNeil were in on six stops apiece.

Next up for the Tigers is Mississippi State, the first SEC test for Rhoads as defensive coordinator of the Tigers. He said he think the defense will be prepared for that challenge on Saturday night in Starkville.

"I think we have a lot better understanding of what it takes to prepare from Sunday to Saturday," Rhoads said.

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