Auburn defensive back Blake Countess gets his hands on the ball against Ole Miss
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Blake Countess recorded his first interception as an Auburn football player Saturday, but he's a veteran when it comes to such things.
He had six interceptions at Michigan before he transferred in before the season, but, alas, No. 7 came with an asterisk. Ole Miss beat Auburn 27-19 in Jordan-Hare Stadium, spoiling that interception, and the one by Kris Frost, and the fact six different Tigers have interceptions this year.
Coach Gus Malzahn said the game turned when his offense converted only two of 15 third down plays. Ole Miss converted 7 of 18, a fact that didn't escape Countess.
"We have to make more plays and get off the field and not give their offense the chance to throw another pass or run another play," Countess said. "We've got to get the ball back."
Another first-year Tiger, running back Jovon Robinson, got untracked by rushing for a game-best 91 yards on 18 carries. The junior college transfer had four carries before Saturday, but spelled the injured, and team rushing leader, Peyton Barber, who had eight carries for 17 yards.
"He's been preparing the whole season to get in and contribute. He did that," said receiver Ricardo Louis.
"It was his opportunity," Malzahn said, "and he is back to getting healthy. He did a good job for us. He protected the football, he ran hard and I thought he had some good runs."
Ole Miss ran 91 plays. Auburn ran 73. All of that gave the Tigers plenty of opportunities to make tackles. Rudy Ford led the way with 14, hitting double figures for the sixth time this season. Freshman Carlton Davis had a career-best nine tackles, the same number as Cassanova McKinzy and Jonathan Jones.
The return of defensive end Carl Lawson after missing the previous six games with a hip injury was seen as an overwhelming positive by his teammates and coaches.
"Having Carl back is really big for the team, not just in terms of him being on the field, but his presence, his leadership style, the way he affects other people," said linebackers coach Lance Thompson. "The first game back after missing seven weeks the guy played unbelievable."
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'We have been close,' says Gus Malzahn
The game story
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine