By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn's defense didn't waver last Saturday, not during the game, not when it was over.
Not into this week despite a tough 13-7 loss at Georgia.
"Good leadership on game day," said defensive coordinator Kevin Steele. "They were very focused on the task at hand. Played very, very hard and it was a physical, physical football game. We were proud of the effort they gave. We just came up short."
The defense allowed only two field goals: Georgia scored its touchdown on an interception. Alas, Auburn doesn't have time to dwell on that, not with much of its backfield injured, and not with Alabama A&M visiting Jordan-Hare Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. After that, it's the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 26.
Auburn's defense can point to this going into the final two regular-season games: The Tigers are ranked in the Top 5 in the SEC in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, fewest third down conversions allowed and red zone defense.
Steele said his defense is moving forward.
"We had to move on quick. That's the way it is in this business," Steele said Wednesday night. "They've come to work and had two really good days of practice. They've had a lot of energy and a lot of leadership. That the thing that's evident on the field now."
Steele said the leadership has come from the likes of Josh Holsey, Tray Matthews, Tre' Williams, Deshaun Davis, Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams.
"We've asked them to grow to that and it's kind of developed into that, which is a positive note."
Alabama A&M doesn't bring the name of an SEC opponent, but "we have the challenge this week of us trying to play our best football game of the year," Steele said. "We've asked them to try to improve each week and dominate the opponent. We've always said it doesn't matter who it is, what time it is or where it is, that it's about us. We've challenged them and they've responded to that. This week of practice has been very important."
Steele's defense lost a backup end Wednesday when Byron Cowart underwent an emergency appendectomy. Steele said he's got that covered because Derrick Brown can move over from tackle to end, if needed; and Cam Toney has practiced there, too.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine