Sept. 22, 2013
Auburn defenders Jermaine Whitehead and Josh Holsey try to stop LSU running back Jeremy Hill
By Phillip Marshall
BATON ROUGE, La. - It seemed LSU was on the verge of running Auburn right out of Tiger Stadium.
After the first possession of the second quarter Saturday night, LSU had gained 217 yards and scored three touchdowns. Running back Jeremy Hill had touchdown runs of 49 and 10 yards and a 54-yard sprint to the Auburn 1-yard line.
But things changed. Auburn's defense got simpler. And when it got simpler, it got better.
"We had a lot of schemes to try to confuse them," said sophomore linebacker Cassanova McKinzy, who had the best game of his career with eight tackles, 1 ½ sacks and 2 ½ tackles for losses. "In the first half we had a lot of missed assignments. We came back in the second half and made it real simple. We got after it. In the first half, we just made a lot of mistakes from the different schemes we installed this week for the game. We went back to the basics and things went better."
Junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy said the Tigers were more comfortable when they went back to their base defense.
"It was really just settling down and people feel comfortable out there," Mincy said. "We were just going with more play calling we were more comfortable with. That allowed people to fill their gaps more comfortably and just play ball."
Hill was limited to 33 rushing yards in the second half and Auburn fought furiously to get back into the game. But LSU held on to win 35-21, turning back a late Auburn drive that moved inside the 5 but was set back by an illegal motion penalty.
The Tigers have trailed in three of their four games, and senior defensive end Dee Ford said they must start faster.
"You can't do that against a good team like that," Ford said. "As good as we can play at times, we can't give that away, especially when we aren't at home. We gave up too much early and had to try to fight our way back. You can't do that against good teams."
Though the Tigers suffered their first loss, Ford said they didn't lose their confidence. They showed that by fighting back when they were on the verge of being blown out.
"That shows the potential of this team," Ford said. "That shows what we can do. We just can't continue to shoot ourselves in the foot. It does a lot mentally for us to know we were in this thing and just kept shooting ourselves in the foot."
Junior safety Jermaine Whitehead said the Tigers will be ready to fight again when Ole Miss visits Jordan-Hare Stadium on Oct. 5.
"The big thing is to dust yourself off once your fall," Whitehead said. "There is going to be some adversity. We were playing the No. 6 team in the country. They aren't No. 6 for no reason. They make a lot of plays and do a lot of things fundamentally. They are a physical football team. I think we got in there and made some plays, too."
Auburn was without three seniors - cornerback Chris Davis, defensive end Craig Sanders and defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker. Davis and Sanders could play against Ole Miss. Whitaker has not played this season.
"We are missing a few key players that would have been able to help us a whole lot," Whitehead said. "Those guys are going to get better and we are going to be a great team when they get back."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: