By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Chad Kelly didn't win, but he got Auburn's attention. How could the Ole Miss quarterback not have? He threw it 59 times and had the Rebels in the lead at halftime before the Tigers came back and won 40-29 last Saturday.
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said he hopes his players learned a lesson from all of that.
"What it did," Steele said, "was give us an opportunity to get their attention. It gave us an opportunity to re-center ourselves and to go back to what got us where we are and that's been a very big positive for this week.
"We have re-centered what our priorities are."
Steele conjured up former Raiders' owner Al Davis to make his point.
"Obviously, we won the game, and as Al Davis would put it, 'just win baby' so that was big," he said.
But, Steele added, "It was not to our standard."
Auburn has played good defense most of the season, but Steele says the Ole Miss game should get his players' attention.
"Obviously, they were happy to win, and there were some really good things, and we accomplished a lot of positives. But there were things that we could do better," Steele said.
Auburn's defense had won praise in consecutive wins over LSU, Louisiana-Monroe, Mississippi State and Arkansas, then held Ole Miss to a lone second-half score.
The Tigers will be looking to get closer to perfection against Vanderbilt in Saturday's 11 a.m. game in Jordan-Hare Stadium. The statistical facts: Auburn is first in total offense and fifth in total defense in the SEC. Vanderbilt is 14th in total offense and seventh in total defense.
Steele says the defensive players understand there's work to do after allowing 570 yards against Ole Miss.
"They were not pleased with it, and when that happens, it makes coaching a whole lot easier," Steele said. "That means they bought into the process of, it's about the next play, it's not about what anybody else does, it's how we do what we do. The relentless effort. The physicality. Tackling. And then play with technique."
Auburn had to change its defense at halftime to negate Kelly's quick throws. The change worked. Ole Miss only scored once in the second half. The defensive line's depth, including Carl Lawson, Jeff Holland, Marlon Davidson, Dontavius Russell, Devaroe Lawrence and Montravius Adams, caught up.
"It's key, because you can keep them fresh. And I think that showed up in the fourth quarter when we kept them scoreless," Steele said. "It started with that, that up front we were playing a lot of people and had a little freshness there."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele says Auburn 'did some really, really good things' at Ole Miss. But 'it was not really to our standards' pic.twitter.com/1XhAALvnVr
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) November 2, 2016