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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Late night practice notes: Auburn's maligned defense takes step forward against LSU

There were some other notes from tonight other than Auburn's No. 1 BCS ranking. We'll just get straight to the bullet points:

(After you follow the blog on Twitter and Facebook of course.)
  • Defensive coordinator Ted Roof stopped short of saying Saturday's effort against LSU was the defense's best of the year. But he praised his team, which gave up only 243 yards and three first downs in the second half. (Although it should be noted that LSU is not exactly the Indianapolis Colts out there.) "We were more consistent,"Roof said. "That’s one of the things that we’ve been preaching and trying to become is a more consistent defense. We need to become more consistent next Saturday than we were last Saturday. I keep coming going back to that, but that’s the whole deal."
  • Roof said the tape makes it easy sell that the group still has to get better. "Is it tough to sell? No, it’s not tough to sell," Roof said. "Because when you turn on the tape, they see the mistakes. When you watch a game, there’s a lot of things you don’t see -- good and bad. The beautiful thing about tape is you get to rewind it and go over and over it and the tape doesn’t lie. The tape doesn’t buffalo you."
  • Both Roof and head coach Gene Chizik had faint praise for outside linebacker Jonathan Evans, who filled in for an injured Daren Bates. Chizik said he played adequate. Roof implied he did just OK.
  • Roof was a little more forthcoming about CB Chris Davis' effort. "I was pleased with him," he said. "I thought he competed well. He didn’t fold. He didn’t cower down to the magnitude of what some people may have perceived that game. He just went out there and played football. I was real proud of him."
  • Roof said linebacker Craig Stevens had his best game this year. The senior LB had seven tackles and a TFL. “I felt like it was an all right game for me," Stevens said. "I don’t know if I would say it was the best. You’re always going to have a few mistakes or whatever. I just feel like there’s always room for improvement. I don’t just want to put a stamp on one game being my best game. I just look at it as another game I played well, but I can always play better.”
  • Stevens can play both weak-side and strong-side linebacker, which should help Auburn's rotation if Bates is out for some considerable time. "I feel comfortable at either side," he said.
  • LOTS of talk about Ole Miss being a trap game. It figures to be after Auburn played three straight emotionally-charged games in a row. The Rebels are 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the SEC. "We're not going to let our guard down," safety Zac Etheridge said. "We came into this thing together as a team and we all go in and really compete. We all have got each others' back. We play for each other. And everybody's got their mind set that we don't want to lose and we're not going to lose. So it's going to be tough going into the hostile environment, but I think we did a lot of games on the road, I think the team can handle and prepare well."
  • It was about this time a year ago that Etheridge suffered a scary neck injury against Ole Miss that left him motionless on the field. Etheridge has credited Rebels RB Rodney Scott with helping him avoid further injury. Scott finished underneath Etheridge at the end of the play but remained still while trainers tended to the injured Auburn safety. It's a compelling story people like to hear about. "I guess just because you see two great guys with great character and belief and trust in God, and that's something that a lot of people want to see," Etheridge said. "And I really can't tell you besides that that we just happened to be in the right place at the right time." (I'll have more on this later this week).
  • LOTS of Nick Fairley talk today. I plan to write my story for Tuesday on him, so I'll save the "A" material. But here's a taste: Fairley has knocked quarterbacks out of the last two games. He even body slammed LSU's Jordan Jefferson on his final sack Saturday. "That’s normal for Nick," Stevens said. "Nothing out of the blue.”
  • OK, one more Fairley note: He thinks Auburn's afternoon of hits on LSU's quarterbacks played a factor in Jarrett Lee running out of bounds short of the markers on fourth down late in the game. "He was like, let's get out of here," Fairley said. "Let's go back home."
  • OK, one more: left guard Mike Berry said Fairley talks a little trash on the field. "He's got the right to."
  • Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli probably runs the ball better than any quarterback Auburn has seen this year (well, except for maybe Randall Cobb). "It puts a lot of pressure on the defense when you’re going against a quarterback that’s a dual threat like that," Stevens said. "It’s like other defenses see with Cam (Newton). You always have to keep in mind that this guy can run. When you’re back playing the pass, you’ve always got to keep an eye on him. See he doesn’t get out of that pocket.”
  • Auburn stays in Montgomery now the night before games instead of LaGrange, Ga. Sounds like a nicer hotel. "Yeah. A lot nicer than an old Holiday Inn … a shack," Stevens said.
  • Mike Dyer kept churning out yards after running into a pile yesterday. The o-line got in on the fun and when it was over, Auburn had an extra five yards out of the play. "I just felt a bunch of guys on the team kind of pushing me," Dyer said. "I kept moving, kept my legs moving. It really showed that that we wanted to win the game, that we have experience, our competitiveness, the family atmosphere. Everybody was just doing their part. I just went the extra mile. It was big for me to be part of that moment."
  • "I was right there in the middle of it with all those guys," center Ryan Pugh said. "You could just hear the stadium going nuts when you were doing it. ... I don't know where Dyer was. I don't even know who I was pushing at that point. I was going in the direction we needed to go. It took me a second to really realize after the play was kind of over, because I did get a 15-yarder the week before for hitting a guy standing around the pile. It took me a second to realize do I really want to do the punishment again for that 15-yard penalty? It was fun."
  • Berry's take on that play: "That run right there maybe shouldn’t have even gotten a yard.”
  • Auburn had a new wrinkle on offense, lining up in a half-huddle very close to the line of scrimmage. The Tigers would send the receivers out first, then break the huddle and rush to the line for a quick snap. "It doesn’t give the defense a chance to get set or the ability to see what formation we’re in," Berry said. "It’s something else the defense has to deal with.”
  • Berry said Auburn's line took things a little personal heading into the LSU game. "All we kept hearing was how great LSU was and how physical," he said. "I’m not going to take anything away from them, they are that, but we’re physical also. It was definitely something were we had something to prove. People were like, ‘Yeah, they’re a great offense, but what are they going to do when they face a great defense?’ It was one of those things that we took personally.”
  • The line is dealing with the usual bumps and bruises at this point of the season. "It's part of the grind that you play in the SEC," Pugh said. "There's going to be days when it's tough to get out of bed, but that's what good teams do. Championship teams find a way to get better every day whether it's easy or not. At this point people have played seven or eight games already and there's no clear-cut end in sight. You're going to do the same thing this week you did last week; this week's game is just as big as last week's."
  • Sounds like Pugh enjoyed Saturday's win quite a bit. "I don't think I even went to bed last night, I was so excited," he said. "It was just one of those things where it was a big game and so much build-up during the week and people showing up on Tuesday for the game, the atmosphere and things. We just sat around and talked about things all night. It was fun and it was something that you don't get to do very often. It was just one of those things where we just sat around and really wanted to soak up the moment. You've got to have a short memory. You've got to go back to work this week."


Simmons B. Buntin said...

Good wrap-up, Andy. Not sure Holiday Inn will be happy about it, though...!

Clint Richardson said...

Great job AB. Hands-down you are the best Auburn beat writer.

Three 2nd 1/2 first downs? Really?? Wow! Really proud of the way our D played. We finally played a great game. This was the game that we went from good to GREAT!!