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A Good Defense is Required for Tigers to be a Contender

By on September 4th, 2018 in Football, News 11 Comments »

A swarm of Auburn defenders bring down Washington’s Jake Browning (3) as Deshaun Davis (57) knocks down his desperation pass on the Huskies last play in the Chick-fil-a Kickoff Game (Jake Crandall/ USA TODAY Sports)

I love college football. I love to see the breakaway running back, the fearless gun-slinging quarterback, the last minute game heroics, the pageantry, tailgating, pretty girls, barbecue, crazed fans, loud stadiums, the rise and fall of emotions with the natural ebb and flow of the game … I love it all; but most of all—I love to watch the defense play.

I guess that puts me in the minority because most people like offense. But for me, I would rather see an interception returned for a touchdown than see the quarterback throw a long bomb for a score. Don’t get me wrong, I love both, it’s just that “Defense” excites me more.

I love to see the opponent’s offense get frustrated and out of sync because a swarming defense has intercepted passes, hurried throws, caused turnovers, and rung up numerous quarterback sacks. I love to see the opponent’s offense back on its heels as the “D” keeps coming at them from every which way they turn.

I love to see goal line stands that save the game, defensive linemen that terrorize quarterbacks, and defensive backs that make receivers pay for crossing the middle. Yes, bone crushing, jaw rattling tackles that can be heard in the stands. Yes D E F E N S E is where it’s at for me; defense is what excites me.

And defensive junkies like me were treated to a show inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium Saturday in Atlanta. From the first snap, the defense came out on fire against Washington as Kevin Steele’s swarming D forced a three and out on the Huskies’ first possession.

For the most part Jake Browning was hurried, harassed, or sacked the entire game. The elite QB has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in his career, and while he did wind up throwing for 296 yards, it was 100 yards under his average.

The Auburn D  made it very difficult for one of the nation’s best offenses to reach the end zone. And the drives the Huskies did put together were aided by eight defensive flags. Take those out, and the game would have been a Tiger blowout. Admittedly, the defense needs to clean that up, but from where I sat in the end zone some of those were very questionable.

Despite those obstacles the defense found a way to come through when the chips were down.

Nick Coe, playing at buck, made a big play in the third quarter when he broke through to force a fumble, which linebacker Darrell Williams recovered, on third and goal at the Tigers’ 3-yard line. Williams also deflected what looked like a possible touchdown pass, keeping Browning frustrated. Later, with time running out, Browning was smothered by a host of blitzing defenders and his feeble attempt to get a pass off was knocked to the turf by Deshaun Davis. Williams and Coe earned SEC’s Co-Defensive Player of the Week and Co-Defensive Lineman Player of the Week honors for their performance.

It was a dominant performance for Auburn.

Even with Washington benefiting from flags, the Tigers held the Huskies to 16 points, 20 below last season’s average, harassed Browning, and held 4,000-yard-rusher Myles Gaskin to 75 yards. Overall, the defense finished with nine tackles for a loss, five sacks, two forced turnovers, and only allowed 5 third down conversions on 14 attempts. “We always want that type of pressure,” said D-lineman Dontavius Russell. “If the [Auburn] offense scored three points, then we should win the game is how we look at it.”

Much was written in the offseason about high expectations for this unit. It appears the hype was deserved. The Tigers may well turn out to have a special defense. And you know the old saying, “Offense puts butts in seats, and defense wins championships.”

Should I dare mention the word “championship” this early in the season? Why not, that’s always the goal on the Plains. While Auburn still has to navigate the SEC, including a murderous road schedule, it’s a great start for a good defense.

And a good defense has to be there if the Tigers are to be a contender.


  1. BirminghamEagle says:

    Good article ATM. I was there too and I was positively giddy over the defense. The crowd was terrific and the players seemed to feed off them. Hope to see them do the same against LSU next week.

  2. ATL_AU_FAN ATL_AU_FAN says:

    Man, I loved it when that all-out blitz was called on that 4th down play. Browning had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide! And the roar of the crowd was unreal – Good read, ATM!

  3. Derrick Roberts Derrick Roberts says:

    I can’t talk about the defensive line for Auburn without yelling at least a little bit. Talk about an absolute goon squad. I can’t wait to see these guys do work the rest of the season.

  4. WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

    I’m with you Tigerman, I do Love defense. And it looks like we’re going to have a good one this year!

  5. WDE7385 WDE7385 says:

    War Eagle!!! Feel the same about defense, love it.
    the Auburn D definitely walked the walk Saturday. After they figure out how to stop the side line dump off, they have the potential for shut down football
    Using Chandler Cox was fantastic, I wanted to see that so many times last year. Thank you Offensive Coaches. Cox does his blocking so well, he deserves to get the ball occasionally.
    The offensive line needs some more heat and/or pressure to make them gel into a solid wall.
    We actually have double digit returns on kicks and punts!!!
    Smoke ASU and get ready for LSU. It’s gonna be fun.

  6. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Defense was good, but we need improvement at the cornerback spots. It was announced this morning that corner John Broussard Jr. has left the team, which hurts the depth, there. Especially after both Jamel Dean and Javaris Davis got banged up and had to leave the game at times. Jordyn Peters got most of the snaps in place of those two. Broussard did not play, even on special teams.

  7. AtkinsonTiger AtkinsonTiger says:

    Defense made it a really fun game to watch and I believe Coe and Williams honors are just the beginning of many more accolades to come for those two.

  8. greyfox says:

    Little has been said about our Safeties, which is actually a refreshing surprise. I was worried Thomas and Dinson would be out of their league too often, but I only noticed a few times when one (mostly Dinson, actually) was out of position. It would have been nice to have one or both contributing in the deep passing game, but the ball rarely came to the middle of the field. Run support from Thomas was fantastic.

    I wished to have seen us use a smaller front some in the second half. Davidson, Russell, Brown, and Coe are just massive, and it seemed that Steele favored keeping them in and dropping a LB for a DB. Our best pass rusher (Moultry) seemed like he couldn’t get out of his own way, so put D Williams or Atkinson at buck/OLB and tell him to get the QB. He could line up wide and still not have to worry about inside runs (most likely) with the rest of the line stuffing the middle so well. Our four DLmen seemed like they did a great job of putting pressure on Browning without actually putting him on the ground as much as they should have. Browning’s experience helped him immensely here; a less experienced QB would have fled the pocket over and over. It took a real breakdown in their line for our guys to get through fast enough to get the ball before Browning got rid of it (airing it out to one of his lucky receivers). I’d have traded a few inside runs to the second level for more cracks at Browning.

    But…I like this front against LSU 100%. Burrows looked competent, but he’s not as savvy or mobile as Browning. Pressure from our front 4 should rattle him significantly. Keeping Brousette at the LOS will be huge.

  9. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..I feel like Dinson’s worst play was on Washington’s last drive. Dinson was placed about ten yards behind the line of scrimmage, and clearly assigned to spy the quarterback. Dinson somehow missed that Browning had decided to run, and Browning was well past the line of scrimmage before Dinson even moved. Browning was able to scramble, and picked up 13 yards and a big first down on 3rd and 11, down to the Auburn 37.

    …..From there, Browning tried to stuff one into coverage to Fuller, didn’t work. Then a draw to Gaskin that was blown up for a 3 yard loss by Nick Coe. Then the coverage sack by Big Kat. And we certainly remember the all-out blitz on 4th down that caught Browning by complete surprise!

  10. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    We're on same page ATM.
    I Love to watch (a good) Defense play too!