Confessions of a College Football ‘Defensive’ Junkie
No where to run. Ga. Southern running back L.A, Ramsby is wrapped up by the Auburn defense. (photo: Julie Bennett/al.com)
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. You know the old saying, “Offense puts butts in the seats and defense wins championships.” But for me, I would rather see sack after sack than see a quarterback throw a long bomb for a touchdown. 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 their heels playing timid because the ‘D’ keeps coming at them from every which way they turn.
I love to see goal-line stands, 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 there was plenty of the above to excite defense junkies like myself in Auburn’s 41–7 opening win over Georgia Southern. The performance was reminiscent of the domineering defensive units fielded by Shug Jordan and Pat Dye.
Not since the 1980’s when Dye roamed the sidelines in Jordan-Hare have we seen such dominance of an opponent. Granted it was not an SEC opponent, but when you prevent a team from converting any 3rd downs and hold them to less than 80 total yards, you have turned in an elite performance.
Georgia Southern couldn’t get anything going as the front seven were constantly in the Eagles’ backfield, harassing quarterback Shai Werts, sacking him six times and piling up 12 tackles for a loss.
Two of the sacks were made by Jeff Holland, who put to rest any questions whether he could fill the buck position left open by Carl Lawson, now playing for the Cincinnati Bengalis. And linebacker Tré Williams led all tacklers with 10 tackles on the night, including two sacks. Marlon Davidson had two sacks while Nick Coe and Derrick Brown played like they had a chip on their shoulder. For a defensive junkie like myself, it was a thing of beauty.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said he challenged the group to play at a higher level with each successive play. They met that challenge Saturday night in a big way.
Question is, can they can keep playing at a “higher level” through out a murderous schedule that includes last year’s No. 1 and No. 2 teams? Only time will give us the answer, but after what I saw Saturday … my money is on a Tiger unit that may be the most talented defense that Auburn has fielded in thirty years.