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'Big time' Auburn defense delivers again
Tray Matthews and the Auburn defense allowed only 351 yards and 10 points vs. Mississippi State
Oct. 1, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - When it comes to scoreboard stinginess, Auburn's defense stands alone.

After beating Mississippi State 49-10 Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium, The Tigers are the only FBS team to allow 14 or fewer points in every game this season.

"We had a good defense last year, and we had a lot of guys coming back," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "You could tell in the spring it was different. They had a different attitude. They know Coach Steele's defense in and out. They're playing extremely hard. They're playing with that edge. That's a great stat. Hopefully, we can keep building upon that."

Like Malzahn, Auburn senior safety Tray Matthews was unaware of Auburn's statistical exclusivity until a reporter informed him after the game.

"I guess that's big time," said Matthews, who made three tackles and an interception. "We wish it would be lower than that. That's how crazy our defense is. We get mad if they get a first down. If they get 20 yards, we get so down on ourselves, it makes us come back even hungrier."

Matthews pointed out two keys to Auburn's defensive success.

"Keeping the top on the coverage and stopping the run," said Matthews, whose unit held MSU quarterback Nick Fitzgerald to 13 completions on 33 attempts for 157 passing yards. "Those are the main things Coach [Steele] harps on every single day. No deep balls, and stop the run."

Not only did Auburn's defense prevent points against MSU, it also produced them, courtesy of Javaris Davis' 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.

"We were in zone coverage and I remember seeing that play on film," Davis said. "I was just trying to make a play on the ball. It all started up front. We have a great defensive line to pressure. We just all try to do our jobs. It all starts up front with those guys. We're blessed to have them."


 

 

Linebackers Montavious Atkinson and Darrell Williams each made seven tackles. Auburn played without injured senior linebacker Tre' Williams.

"Tre' is a really big part of our defense," said Deshaun Davis, who led Auburn with 10 tackles. "He's one of our defensive leaders, one of our captains, our team leaders. As a linebacker, we took it on ourselves to take up his slack. Before the game, we just told him it was all for him, and I think we played pretty good."

Having allowed only six touchdowns in five games, Auburn's defenders believe there is still room for improvement.

"We have a long ways to go on our journey," Javaris Davis said.

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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