Devine And White Carve Up Auburn Defense

Auburn allowed 31 unanswered points in Thursday night's loss to West Virginia.

Morgantown, WV--For the first half of the 2008 season the one thing that was dependable on the Auburn football team was the defense under Paul Rhoads. Thursday night that defense was torched for the second consecutive game as Patrick White and Noel Devine led the West Virginia Mountaineers to 445 yards of total offense on the way to a 34-17 victory.

The story of the game for Auburn on defense was missed tackles. Time and time again Devine had a defender in his area or holding onto him but seemingly every time he escaped for big yardage. Carrying the ball just 17 times, Devine torched Auburn's defense for 207 yards. Rhoads said the story of the game was simply mistakes by his defense starting with the basic fundamental of tackling.

"Defensive football is really quite simple," Rhoads said. "You've got to fit properly and you've got tackle, and we tackled worse than we fit. We talked all preparation long that the difference in two yards in a game like this against an offense like that is the difference in 200 yards. We proved that point well with how we played."

For the second consecutive game the story for the Auburn defense was its play against the run. Michael Smith from Arkansas ran for 176 and Devine trumped that total by himself on Thursday. Throw in 42 yards from Jock Sanders and it added up to 271 rushing yards for WVU.

"A lot of the credit goes to Noel Devine and Pat White trying to tackle guys like that," Rhoads said. "He looked like a greased pig a couple of times. We had three or four guys with arms around him and couldn't bring him down."

Amazingly Auburn held down White for the most part in the rushing category, limiting him to just eight yards on 11 carries. White did his damage through the air, finishing 13-21 for 174 yards and three touchdowns with two early interceptions. Rhoads said White does such a good job running the offense that it makes it difficult on a defense to completely shut him down.

"He's a tremendous football player," Rhoads said. "He's as good of a football player at that position in the country and certainly running that offense. He understands it and he's well coached in it. They do a marvelous job of checking off at the line of scrimmage and getting in the right play."

On the receiving end Dorrell Jalloh was the killer for the Auburn defense with four receptions for 53 yards and two touchdowns. Sanders added 31 yards while Alric Arnett caught three passes for 59 yards. Only Arnett's was a down the field throw, something Rhoads said was even more disappointing from a defensive perspective.

"We did a poor job of getting off blocks to finish those plays," Rhoads said. "Those plays were too many first downs as a result because we didn't get off blocks well enough to get people out there and get the ball down."

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