Bynes Goes the Distance

Linebacker Josh Bynes comments on his first college start in Auburn's victory over Tennessee.

Auburn, Ala.--An animated Josh Bynes could have played another half of football Saturday after taking every defensive snap in Auburn's 14-12 victory over Tennessee.

"I'm feeling real good right now," Bynes said after stepping in for injured starter Tray Blackmon.

All Bynes did was record 11 tackles against the Vols. That's a season high for an Auburn defender. Not only was the 6-2, 230-pound sophomore from Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., a tackling machine, he was also an emotional leader for the Auburn defense that was called on time and time again to keep the Vols off the scoreboard.

With a big smile on his face while answering post-game questions, Bynes said he knew going into Tennessee game week he would see plenty of action after Blackmon suffered a cracked bone in his wrist against LSU the previous week.

Tiger Coach Tommy Tuberville indicated during the week that Blackmon would see action against the Vols, but that didn't happen. Blackmon will probably play next week against Vanderbilt, Tuberville said.

"I didn't know what to expect or how much I was going to play," said Bynes, who was informed by linebackers coach James Willis' shortly before the game he was starting. "I knew as long as I was on the field I was going to play to the best of my ability."

From his production, Bynes appeared to have accomplished that goal.

His 11 tackles included six solos and five assists. He helped lead an Auburn defense that forced four consecutive three-and-outs by Tennessee in the fourth quarter with the Tigers nursing a 14-12 lead.

Bynes said believes he could have kept going longer if that's what it took to beat the Vols.

"I was getting stronger at the end. I was pumped, telling the defense let's go, regardless of what the offense did. It did matter what the situation was, we just had to keep going on defense and keep them from scoring."

It was during the fourth quarter that defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads put more pressure on the Tennessee offense with some blitz packages.

"He let us loose a little more in the fourth quarter," Bynes said with a smile. "That was good because we were able to get some pressure on the quarterback. It didn't matter where Tennessee started we had to keep focused and keep them from scoring."

Tennessee quarterback Jonathan Crompton managed to connect on only eight of 23 passes for 67 yards against relentless pressure from the Auburn defense.

"Their quarterback kept trying to distract us by pointing and calling out different things," Bynes explained. "We weren't worried about that. We knew what to do and what to take care of on defense."

Bynes' biggest supporter on the sideline was Blackmon, who kept checking with his protégé to make sure he was okay and offering tips on what he was observing on the field.

When quarterback Kodi Burns connected with Montez Billings for a crucial pass of 10 yards from his own 5-yard line for a first down with 2:02 to play that allowed the Tigers to run out the clock, Bynes was one happy young man.

"I was nervous, but he completed the pass," he said. "All of a sudden I was relaxed and ready for the offense to run out the clock. I was good to go," Bynes remembered.

As for stepping up so strongly, Bynes said it comes from preparation and that he has shared a lot of snaps with Blackmon going into the Tennessee game."Basically, you have to know the defense. You have to know what you are supposed to do," Bynes said "When you practice, you practice hard like it's your last chance. When you get in the game, you do what you have practiced all week."

One person not surprised by Bynes' performance was Rhoads.

"You guys know the number of snaps he's been getting all year," the coordinator said. "You know we believe in him. Tonight, it just happened that he took every snap. He responded in kind."

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