Originally written on Talkin' College Football  |  Last updated 6/30/14

Following Auburn’s torrid comeback from a 24-point deficit at Alabama last Friday, there is no doubt the Tigers’ offense is national championship-worthy.  But the question throughout all of the 2010 season has been can Auburn’s defense hold up enough to give their offense a chance to win it.

As much as the huge comeback win over Alabama was attributed to the offense putting up 28  points to ‘Bama’s 3,  the defense showed up in the second half, too.

Nick Fairley is a bona fide All-America candidate at defensive tackle.  He disrupted things in the middle and ended the day posting two solo sacks and two tackles for loss, for a total of minus-30 yards (15 via sack, 15 via TFLs).  The defensive front, which includes the linebackers, too, can be solid overall and they can also pressure the passer.  Pass coverage has been the Tigers Achilles heel, and that’s where Alabama made the most of their opportunities in the first half.  Fortunately for Auburn, the defense as a whole, and the pass defense in particular, pulled it together in the second half.

Alabama’s passing game put up astronomical numbers in the first half en route to a 24-0 lead.  QB Greg McElroy was 19 out of 23 for 335 yards.  That’s a great GAME for most people.  In order to do that someone had to catch those passes.  All-America WR Julio Jones was outrageous–seven receptions for 174 yards–again, a tremendous game total any receiver would be proud to have.  RB Mark Ingram contributed big time in that first half with 91 receiving yards.  Despite all of that, Auburn did manage to sack McElroy twice.  But, the second half was as different as night and day.

If the first half was a dark time for Auburn’s “D”, the second half was bright sunshine.  The Tigers limited to Alabama to just 67 total yards of offense in the second half compared 379 in the first.  The Tide only clicked on 8 of 18 passing for a measly 42 yards in the second half and Auburn’s defense came up with three more sacks of Alabama QBs.  One was quite significant; McElroy, the outstanding senior, team leader, suffered an injury to his throwing shoulder when he was driven into the ground on a sack late in the fourth quarter.  Jones was not blanked in the receiving department in the second  half, but his three catches were for only 25 yards.

Aside from Fairley, Auburn also got great production out of LB Eltoro Freeman who totaled 9 tackles, including a solo sack and two tackles for loss.  CB  T’Sharvan Bell also has the same numbers in the minus yardage play categories, evidence of the Tigers bringing some heat from the secondary.

Cam Newton and the rest of the Auburn offense is exciting to watch and very explosive, but there has not been a team who has won the national championship with a shaky defense.  The Tigers are yielding about 25 points per game and 363 yards of total offense (108 rush & 255 pass).  That’s good enough to beat most people given Auburn’s offense.  They are not a big INT defense, in fact, Auburn has only picked off opposing QBs eight times out of 441 attempts.  As mentioned before, they can get after the QB a fair amount–30 sacks on the year.  The key in the very near future will be for Auburn’s “D” to play with the sense of urgency, tenacity, and execution they did the last 30 minutes against Alabama.

If Auburn gets past South Carolina in the SEC title game this Saturday, and Oregon takes care of business vs. rival Oregon State in their “Civil War”, the bottom line is– will the Tiger defense be good enough against the Ducks?  If both teams hold form, we will have to wait until Jan. 1oth  to find out.  That gives Auburn’s defense a good month to get ready for Oregon’s electric, scoring machine of an offense…but, it also gives the Ducks time to come up with a couple of new wrinkles, too,

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Stephen Strasburg is hurt again

Mayweather has message for Pacquiao about injured shoulder

Has Blake Griffin taken the next step?

Mike Evans liked Winston more than Mariota

Ernie Johnson gives his Emmy to Stuart Scott’s daughters

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Titus Young avoids prison, receives probation

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland to golf community

Ex sues Mayweather for $20M for lying in Couric interview

The NBA needs to leave 'hack-a-whoever' rules alone

Top Rank threatens to sue over Mayweather-Pacquiao piracy

Titans already tailoring offense to suit Mariota's strengths

Mike Wallace: 'I'm the fastest player in the NFL'

Ty Lawson could be trade target for Celtics

WATCH: Zack Greinke does great bat flip after hitting double

WATCH: Fan uses beer as ice pack after being hit by ball

La'el Collins reportedly has 'airtight alibi' in murder case

WATCH: Stephen Curry nails shot from hallway prior to game

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

No homers, no problem for Cubs' Kris Bryant

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

NFL releases times and dates for preseason slate

Fans file $5M class action suit against Pacquiao over injury

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Top eight NFL free agents on the market

Eagles' Chip Kelly & Sam Bradford: In like, but not love

Manziel moves from downtown Cleveland

Making sense of the AL East pile-up

Chris Bosh on blood clot diagnosis: ‘I’m lucky to be alive’

Projecting the All-Star Game rosters

Tiger hasn't slept in three days since Lindsey Vonn breakup

2015 NBA Draft big board, first edition

Eliminate Hack-A-Player: Don't reward violating sports rules

No easy solution to the problem of early NFL draft entrants

What’s next for the Spurs?

Cauley-Stein changes middle name to 'Trill'

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.