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Auburn Hopes to Improve Run Defense This Week

Auburn Defensive Tackle Dontavius Russell tackles Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight on Saturday (Photo: Auburn Athletics)

Auburn Defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele opened Sunday evening’s press conference by praising the defense’s effort in Saturday night’s loss to Texas A&M. Steele says that is unacceptable by Auburn standards to allow a team in the red zone, that only giving up one touchdown in 16 attempts to find the end zone is a step in the right direction as far as developing is concerned. Steele also said that the defense is making progress in stopping the pass, by allowing Aggie quarterback Trevor Knight to complete 20 out of 47 passes, for just over 5 yards per attempt. However, the run defense is what concerned Steele, and says that the issue will be corrected immediately.

On the overall performance of the run defense:

The Texas A&M offense burned Auburn’s defense one time, that was thanks to an 89-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter by Aggie running back Trayveon Williams. Steele says that the run defense was a low-point in the game. “When you watch the film, there are some really good plays. The culprit of that particular play, was a total misfit. A miscommunication. That falls on us as coaches to get that corrected, but that also falls on them to get that corrected.” Steele says that the defense has continued to make progress throughout its three games.

On the defense’s role in the game:

“If we were firemen, our job isn’t to worry about who started the fire, or how long it has been burning, it’s to put the fire out.” That was the answer Steele gave when asked about the performance of the defense, in conjunction to how well the offense plays. Auburn’s defense held Texas A&M to under 500 yards of total offense, and only two touchdowns. However, the offense had trouble finding the end zone at times during the game. “We control the run game, the pass game, and getting off the field on third down, and creating turnovers. That is what we control, that is where our focus is.”

On slowing down LSU running back Leonard Fournette:

Last season, LSU running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns in LSU’s 45-21 win over Auburn in Baton Rouge. Steele was the defensive coordinator for LSU last season, and knows Fournette very well. “Obviously, he is a very talented young man.” Steele said about Fournette. “We aren't going to ask anybody out there to take more than one zone, one man, one gap. Do your job. That’s every week, that’s every play.”

On LSU quarterback Danny Etling:

LSU, like other SEC teams, have had their controversy with quarterbacks early in the season. Danny Etling, a transfer from Purdue, got the start in LSU’s win over Mississippi State last Saturday, throwing for 315 yards on 25 completions and 2 touchdowns. Steele says that he has not had the chance to watch film on LSU as of Sunday night, but knows him and his abilities from his time at LSU last season.

On changing defensive philosophy:

For the first time all season, Auburn’s defense will be playing against an offense that runs the pro-style, instead of an uptempo, spread set. “I never thought I would stand before a group the third week of the season, and say “well, we have a little adjustment to make”. We gotta go out there and make sure that we can get lined up against i-pro, and i-slot. That’s where the game is, we have worked on it, have we had enough work at it? Not to suit me. But we have to get it done this week.”

Next up for Auburn is LSU, this Saturday night at 5PM inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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