October 6, 2013

Situational strength

AUBURN | The most popular statistical marker related to Auburn's defensive performance against Ole Miss was unfavorable Saturday night.

The Rebels gained 464 yards.

Yet Ellis Johnson's defense found ways to raise its level of play when conditions merited. The visitors were just 5-of-19 on third down and couldn't get their run game on track, which accentuated quarterback Bo Wallace's struggles in the passing game.

Six sacks also played a major role. Johnson walked away feeling proud that his group, which has been in a years-long funk, may be in the midst of a meaningful change in effectiveness.

"That's the perfect word: very proud of those guys and the way they fought," Johnson said Sunday. "We still have a lot of things to clean up and we made some mistakes, but I just thought their effort, attitude, their confidence level and everything ... even with the dam broke a couple of times, the response was always one of confidence."

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