September 8, 2012

THE DEFENSE: Tough enough?

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STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Was Auburn overpowered along the line of scrimmage?

That was the most pressing question after the Tigers' 28-10 loss against Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs only averaged 4.6 yards per carry - well off Clemson's pace from Sept. 1 - yet seemed to break through for substantive gains during the most important moments.

Was that a function of being outgunned up front?

"I think so," defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder said. "I think it's fair to say that."

Yet players weren't so sure. Safety Demetruce McNeal, who started and played the entire game at strong safety, said the Bulldogs' most important plays were flukes related to mental errors rather than something less repairable.

"I wouldn't say 'physically beat'. Sometimes there were little errors. That's what most people don't see," McNeal said. "There was a big run here and there, but it was just the little knick-knacks inside the defense. Little hitch 7s that they're getting 15s on. If you stop those, you'll be a good defense in the SEC. We've got good guys on our defense that play physical football. We're a physical group. We'll never get out-physicaled."

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