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'That's where all the fun comes in': Auburn's defense dazzles
Jeff Holland celebrates after recovering a fumble against Arkansas. Photo: Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics
Oct. 22, 2017

By Jeff Shearer

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - There were sacks, fumble recoveries and tackles for loss aplenty.

Auburn's defense, missing two starters in the secondary, dominated Saturday in the Tigers' 52-20 win at Arkansas, making eight tackles for loss.

"It was very fun," said Jeff Holland, who led the way for a defense that totaled six sacks. "We got after the quarterback. We got a W, and that's where all the fun comes in."

"Jeff Holland on the edge is dynamic," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. "Our other guys did a good job of getting some pressure up the middle. We've got a pretty good defensive line, and they played very well tonight."

"Stop the run first," said Holland, who had 1.5 sacks, forced two fumbles and recovered one. "Coach G [associate head coach Rodney Garner] said once we stopped the run, we were going to get a chance to pin our ears back and rush the quarterback. It went great, but we still have some things to improve on."

Marlon Davidson, Derrick Brown, Nick Coe, T.D. Moultry, Jeremiah Dinson and Big Kat Bryant also recorded sacks on 6-foot-7, 268-pound quarterback Cole Kelley.

"You have to wrap that guy up, he was a big guy," Holland said. "The first time I hit him, it kind of knocked the air out of me."



Auburn recovered three fumbles, with linebackers Deshaun Davis and Darrell Williams registering turnovers along with Holland.

"We played with a chip on our shoulder coming off last week, making corrections and playing with an edge like Coach Steele always preaches," Williams said. "I feel like we did that."

The Tigers played without injured defensive backs Javaris Davis and Tray Matthews.

Arkansas did not score an offensive touchdown until 3:07 remained in the game, against Auburn's second and third-teamers.

Twice in the second quarter, Auburn's defense forced three-and-outs to negate Arkansas' momentum. First after Auburn was stopped on fourth-and-1 at the Razorbacks' 2, then after an interception.

Williams recovered a fumble on a punt return at the Arkansas 41. The Tigers took advantage of the short field, with Kerryon Johnson scoring from the 2 to give Auburn a 14-point lead.

"We had a lot of guys go down last week," Williams said. "Guys had to step up. We wanted to get our best guys on the special teams. We need our best guys to make the best plays on special teams."

Dontavius Russell recorded two quarterback hurries and tied Williams and Coe with a team-leading six tackles, including five solos.

"Our defense did a good job," coach Gus Malzahn said. "That quarterback is a big man. He falls forward a couple yards and he's hard to get to, too. For us to put the pressure on and knock the ball out a couple times, I thought that was a big key to the game."

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

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