Sep 1, 2013
It didn’t take true freshman defensive tackle Montravius Adams long to make an impact in Auburn’s 31-24 win over Washington State on Saturday. He ran through an offensive lineman and sacked quarterback Connor Halliday on his first college snap.
Freshman defensive ends Elijah Daniel and Carl Lawson got into the fray, too. Senior Craig Sanders and junior LaDarius Owens got their first starts.
“We had a lot of true freshmen getting some valuable experience. Overall, it’s going to be a great experience. Even Craig Sanders hasn’t played a lot of scrimmage snaps. Between him and LaDarius Owens and the freshmen, a lot of guys got their feet wet.”
Adams, Johnson said, made an impact, though he didn’t always make the right decisions.
“He made some mistakes in the game,” Johnson said. “He lost contain and did some typical freshman things, but he started showing up a little bit. Carl and Elijah got to play. I did not see them as much. It’s good for those guys to get out there against a pretty good team in front of that crowd. That’s big for a freshman.”
Jeff Whitaker out after 'procedure'; Justin Garrett doesn't play
Auburn defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker was spotted on crutches before the game. He's out for an indefinite amount of time.
"He had a procedure done last week and so he wasn’t able to play," Malzahn said. "We’ll see when he gets back."
Hybrid safety Justin Garrett, who won praise in the spring for his play at the Star position, didn't play, either. He suffered a foot injury in fall practice.
"It's kind of been one of those things where it was a game-time decision," Malzahn said.
Auburn didn't miss a beat. Robenson Therezie started for Garrett, intercepting two passes and finishing with seven tackles.
-- Charles Goldberg
Therezie’s big pick is no accident
When Washington State made a first down at the Auburn 8 in the fourth quarter Saturday, Auburn players knew what to expect. The Cougars would throw in the end zone, and when they did, junior Star Robenson Therezie was there to pick it off.
“We worked this in practice,” Therezie said. “We knew they were trying to take shots in the end zone. That’s all they are about. We communicate because they like checking out when they read our two safeties. I had a great communication with my safety, Jermaine Whitehead. That’s what put me in a good spot to make that interception.”
Leach: Auburn ‘way better’ than last year
Washington State coach Mike Leach said this season’s Auburn football team doesn’t resemble the one that went 3-9 last season.
“They are way better,” Leach said. “I mean, they have one top recruiting class after another, so they are bound to have a great team. I think Gus is doing a really great job of getting them circled up and playing well together.”
Gus Malzahn gives praise to the defense
Gus Malzahn is known for his offense, but the Auburn head coach found a lot to like in the Tigers' defensive performance Saturday night. Auburn had three interceptions in the opener after having only two all last year. And the Tigers limited Washington State to three second-half points.
"They got us three turnovers and had two fourth-down stops late," Malzahn said.
"Our defensive coaches did a great job adjusting."
Safety Josh Holsey said he liked the way the defense got stronger as the game went on.
"We were really playing together and talking more to each other and really everything came together in that second half," he said.
Holsey had one of the interceptions.
"I tried to go get it as high as I could," Holsey said. "I really didn’t think he was going to throw it because I was right there. When I saw it I just ran up and tried to get it at its highest point."
-- Charles Goldberg
Auburn on the learning curve
The game was closer than the fans had wanted, but Gus Malzahn said he got a lot out of it.
“We learned a whole lot about our team. I told our team before, 'Hey, we want to know where we’re at' and obviously I think you all saw we made some mistakes. But the good thing is most of them are correctable."
Going for two …
Gus Malzahn showed his Riverboat Gambler side, going for a 2-point conversion after Auburn's first touchdown. It worked when Ryan White took a direct snap in a very-spread-out formation and scored for an 8-7 lead.
"You have certain plays and you run them or you don’t. We just try to put pressure on the defense as much as we can. I thought it was a pretty good momentum builder there, at least early in the game," Malzahn said.