A&M's Ricky Seals-Jones has no room to run against Auburn's Blake Countess (24), Stephen Roberts (14) and Carlton Davis
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Will Muschamp confirmed Sunday what the world saw the night before. Auburn's 26-10 win over Texas A&M was the Tigers' best defensive effort of the season.
"That was probably our most complete game I would say to this point against an offense that is certainly capable of putting up some numbers," said Auburn's defensive coordinator. "I'm proud of our guys. You go through the last two games and having every opportunity in the world to win the game, especially on defense, and we didn't get it done.
"Those guys continue to persevere and push through."
Auburn will try to continue that in Saturday's 11 a.m. game against Georgia in Jordan-Hare Stadium, now with something to show for its defensive effort. The Tigers allowed a season-low 303 yards against the Aggies, showing signs things are getting better.
Auburn has allowed 88 points in regulation play during the current run through Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. The Tigers, without Muschamp, allowed 145 points through a similar stretch of midseason games last year.
"We've certainly improved, but we've improved ourselves from the open week on. We've gotten better each week," Muschamp said.
"I've coached football a long time. I know there's been an improvement: playing blocks, leveraging the ball, doing the things that good defenses do. Tackle well. We've done those things. We just, maybe statistically at times, it doesn't show, but we've been much improved."
Muschamp was scheming to make sure that happened against Texas A&M with a plan to contain elusive quarterback Kyler Murray. It worked.
"I talked to the team about the defensive line's unselfish play in the game. We asked them to do some things that were unconventional playing against a quarterback that has legs," Muschamp said. "We have a lot of unselfish guys. Cassanova McKinzy was a Mike linebacker, and now we have him at multiple spots. Carl Lawson is playing end and Buck, (Davonte) Lambert is playing end and inside. Blake Countess is playing multiple positions, so there are a lot of guys that have answered the call as far as giving up what they need to do to help our football team play better. That is a huge part of moving forward."
Muschamp found all of that in a happy locker room in College Station.
"There's nothing like it. There's nothing like, No. 1, competing in the arena," he said. "It's modern-day gladiators. It's awesome. You go out there and you go compete and lay your guts on the barbed wire for four quarters and see what happens, and be victorious in that locker room, there's no feeling like it."
Muschamp also said…
• Defensive back Jeremiah Dinson's availability is doubtful after suffering a knee injury Saturday.
"Gus will address that more on Tuesday, but he's definitely out."
• He expects defensive back Tray Matthews to be available for Georgia after missing the A&M game because of an injured ankle.
"I think he'll be fine this week. He did move around a little bit with us tonight and we'll see how it goes the rest of the week. Based on tonight, I would think he would be ready to go."
• Muschamp was gracious talking about his old team, the Florida Gators, who won the SEC East on Saturday.
"I'm extremely happy for those guys. Jim (McElwain) has done a fantastic job. He really got things going offensively, and, certainly, they've continued to play a very high level defensively and on special teams.
"I've texted back and forth with some those guys Saturday, and I'm congratulating those kids."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine