Auburn's Tray Matthews, left,and Tre' Williams, center, celebrate with Carlton Davis after his interception at Kentucky
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― They huddled, the coaches did, or at least they talked about it. Gus Malzahn, Rhett Lashlee and Will Muschamp all discussed whether to go for it on fourth-and-short or punt it away and try to win with defense late in the game at Kentucky.
They chose defense, won the game, and maybe something more.
"Coach Malzahn told us a lot about trust — trusting within each other," said linebacker Tre' Williams. "The action he made by punting the ball to them, it really showed that he really trusts us and we did our job."
Auburn beat Kentucky 30-27, and hopes a jump in big plays will continue in Saturday's game at Arkansas. Lashlee, the offensive coordinator, counted nine explosive plays on offense. The defense had an interception, six tackles for a loss and came through at the end.
Lashlee said Malzahn went that way because "he felt like our defense would make the plays."
"It was the right call. There's no question about it… The defense came up big for us."
Auburn's offense was especially sharp early on the way to a 23-10 halftime lead.
"When you see the offense pushing as hard as they can, we have to do our job because we're all one," Williams said. "Toward the beginning of the season we didn't really have that vibe. I'm not blaming anybody, it was on both sides of the ball. The defense wasn't playing well, the offense wasn't playing well. But now you see ever since the offense started picking up and the defense started picking up, you can see Auburn picking it up. I really don't know how to explain it, but it's getting there."
Auburn is 4-2 overall and 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the league and comes in with a reputation as a running team, though it is ranked higher in the conference in passing than rushing.
Either way, Williams is expecting a physical game.
"As a linebacker, you have to enjoy contact. Every play's going to be contact," he said." With Arkansas, you're going to come out of this game pretty sore. You have to get your mind right from Day 1. We knew what we were getting into ever since the beginning of the season. We have Arkansas at 11 o'clock. It's going to be a big one and it's a must-win, so we're going to do whatever we can do to get that W."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine