Justin Garrett, right, had reason to celebrate after his interception at Texas A&M
By Charles Goldberg
COLLEGE STATION, Texas ― Justin Garrett was talking football things, like "always biting the cheese in practice" and the opposition running a "Yogi route."
Neither was apparently good for the Auburn linebacker in practice last week, but in Saturday night's game, things were much different. Garrett grabbed one of Auburn's three interceptions and the Tigers played their best defensive game of the season in a 26-10 win over Texas A&M at Kyle Field.
"I finally did it right," Garrett said. "Coach Muschamp told me if I'd do it right, they throw the ball right to me."
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was right. Garrett intercepted a pass, as did Auburn's defenders Carlton Davis and Blake Countess in the confidence-boosting game. By game's end, another defender was looking ahead to Georgia, Idaho and Alabama.
"Great defensive win, great team win, I'm ecstatic," said Carl Lawson. "We've just got to keep doing it. Keeping building on this game. Keep building. Keep building. Keep building."
Garrett said Auburn kept the faith after some uneven performances earlier in the season.
"We play hard and we knew just keep fighting," Garrett said. "We work hard every day in practice. In the weight room, we bring energy. We didn't feel negative. We just knew one game it would all click together. We were all going to play well.
Auburn held No. 19 Texas A&M those 10 points, the fewest against a ranked SEC team on the road since a 34-10 win over Tennessee in 2004. Garrett said the defense didn't waiver.
"Coach Muschamp is on us every day. It's a positon battle every day," Garrett said. "We work hard. We have a good time."
Muschamp set the stage for the road win.
"He gives a good pep speech," Garrett said. "He came and told the seniors: 'This is your last away game.' Our seniors were thinking about that, the last time we were going to wear that white jersey this season. So we all came out there Tuesday, with a lot of energy. We realized our time is ticking down, and we have to play the best we can."
The secret to Auburn's success against the Aggies was to try to contain elusive quarterback Kyler Murray, who started for the first time the week before and lit up XXX with his arm and legs. Muschamp's plan was to make Murray less elusive by forcing him to stay in the pocket on pass plays.
"You can't go all out rushing and do pass rush moves," Garrett said. "You pretty much have to contain him in the pocket. He's a shorter quarterback, so it's going to be harder for him to see over his offensive linemen, so that was our goal was: Collapse the pocket and make it harder for him to throw the football."
Like Garrett's play, Davis' interception came early when Auburn was setting the tone.
"It's a great feeling just to go out there and make the most of your opportunities," Davis said. "There's nothing better than you can ask for."
The true freshman now has three interceptions this season. Murray provided the last one.
"I had good position on the play," Davis said. "I didn't really think the quarterback would throw the ball. But when I saw it, I just knew I had to make a play. There's was no other way but for me to make a play.
"It started our momentum and gave us a lot of confidence."
Linebacker Kris Frost said the plan was to confuse the freshman quarterback.
"We just threw a lot of stuff at him. We showed blitz when we weren't, and didn't show blitz when we were. There were a lot of things we changed up to exploit him," Frost said.
Our other stories….
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Gus Malzahn the Tigers played their best game
The game story
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine