Allowing 30 points and 260 yards to an offense that had scored just 43 total points in losses to North Texas, New Hamshire and Army, Auburn's defense had some problems as it allowed 146 yards on the ground and 19 first downs to the Cardinals. Some of that falls on the defense, some on the offense, and some on the kicking game, but Coleman said for him the defense has to be better.
"It was average," Coleman said. "We gave up 30 points to Ball State. Not knocking them, but we're a way better ball team than that. Defensively I don't think we played great at all. We played great at times, but our main objective was to come out and play four quarters and we didn't do that."
It wasn't all bad for Auburn's defense as it didn't allow a drive over 27 yards the entire first half with Ball State running 39 plays for just 72 yards in the first 30 minutes. Junior safety Zac Etheridge said early on the defense played very well and helped set up the offense to put the game away quick.
"We got into a rhythm," Etheridge said. "We settled down and started playing the football we know we can play. We started getting sacks and fumbles and turnovers. That's what we work on. It just made the game easier for our offense to score points."
The second half was a different story entirely as the Cardinals took their opening possession 70 yards for a touchdown. With the game in hand the Auburn first-team defense came back out and had a solid three-and-out before the subs came on. They allowed a 67-yard touchdown drive for a score and another 53-yard field goal drive, but Etheridge said that's a small price to pay for the experience they gained Saturday night.
"It was great to get those guys out there so we can get a look at them on film against other opponents," Etheridge said. "It will give us a chance to know who can help us down the road with this tough schedule. Guys are going to get banged up. We know that. We just had to get those guys in. We started off too slow and we should have been more explosive, but it turned out well."
In the end it's a win as the Tigers prepare to face Tennessee on the road next week. Coleman said while he's happy with a victory, he's not even close to satisfied with how the team played and knows it's going to take more to get win number five next week in Neyland Stadium.
"I think as a whole we came out not prepared to play a four quarter ballgame," Coleman said. "The offense came out sluggish, special teams, and defensively. We can't do that. We're going into the second part of the season. At Tennessee you can't do that. You will lose a ballgame like that. I don't think we played well as a whole tonight."