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Auburn's defense: The good and 'lot of little mistakes'
Nov. 16, 2014

Auburn's defense ties up Todd Gurley, but the Bulldogs came through

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Ellis Johnson said he saw some good things on Auburn's defense, but didn't have much to show for it at Georgia on Saturday night.

"It's been sort of like trying to run in quicksand," said the Tigers' defensive coordinator. "We've been doing things as hard as we can do them and as well as we can do them. But every game, if there's 75 snaps, there's about 55-60 really good looking snaps, but it's those other 15 that are killing us."

Georgia beat Auburn 34-7, and now the Tigers will treat Saturday's 6 p.m. game against Samford as an opportunity to build confidence rather than a chance to build depth.

"Right now, we just have to get better," Johnson said. "We're not even worried about who we're playing. 

"Our starters and our rotators need to play well first, and have a good week of practice. When I'm standing here next Sunday, we better be a better football team than we are today, or we're not going to be ready to play Alabama."

Auburn, at 7-3, now is talking about a 2-0 run to finish the regular season and another win in a bowl. Johnson said there was some underlying things to like against Georgia.

"We played a lot more physical. We did some things that were good against a very talented football team," Johnson said. "The biggest thing I saw is we were put in some really tough situations — things we couldn't control  and the players fought back. The mistakes we made are what really kept us from being able to lift us out of that hole.

"It wasn't the physicality of it, or the nature of their performance, it was a lot of little mistakes."

Johnson said the coaches are taking responsibility.

"We're going to always think it's coaching, because if you don't then you don't have any solutions," he said. "When you have that issue as a coach, you always take that upon yourself. I either have to teach it better, we've got to rep it more frequently, we're doing too much, somehow he's not understanding it. 

"The first thing you're going to do is make sure you're coaching it and teaching it right."


• Auburn is doing well enough with 14 interceptions, but Johnson said the Tigers aren't getting enough fumbles. Opposing teams have fumbled 22 times, but Auburn has recovered only five of them.

"It's been a long time since we knocked the ball loose and very infrequent as far as creating turnovers," Johnson said. "We’ve been pretty good at takeaways but most of them have been interceptions."

• Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker didn't dress for the Georgia game. 

"He's got a nerve issue from his back or something and they're still doing some examination on it. But I don't know his exact status," Johnson said.

Weekend stories...
Top 25: Tigers No. 16 in AP poll
Georgia wins it: The game story
Bounceback time: Players in rally mode
Gus Malzahn:
 Expectations will always be high

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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