Auburn defense the real story

Published 8:06 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Even with all the talk about the implementation of Auburn’s new spread offense and the (now defunct) quarterback controversy, the real story of the No. 9 Tigers’ season, on the field at least, has been the defense.

The Auburn defense leads the Southeastern Conference in opponents’ third-down conversion percentage, allowing only three conversions in 32 attempts. The Tigers (2-0) are

No. 9 Auburn at Miss. State – 6 p.m. on Sept. 13, ESPN2

also tied for second in scoring defense, allowing 6.5 points per game.

But this week’s foe, Mississippi State (1-1), should provide a stiffer test for the Auburn defense when the teams meet at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2. The Bulldogs will provide Auburn’s first conference competition and feature several talented offensive weapons. The State attack will begin with the tailback tandem of Anthony Dixon and Christian Ducre.

“Everybody likes to have two good ones, and they have that,” Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville said at Wednesday’s SEC coaches teleconference.

The duo has combined for 256 yards and two touchdowns in two games.

Tuberville compared the ability to substitute the speedy Ducre for the bruising Dixon to a baseball team’s ability to bring a new pitcher to relieve the starter.

The ‘dogs also have Brandon McRae, a junior that leads the conference in receptions per game with six. McRae is evidence of a Mississippi State passing attack much more potent than last year’s version.

Bulldogs coach Sylvester Croom said he and his staff have their hands full preparing for an Auburn team that will look much different than the one State defeated last year, 19-14, because the Tigers have two new quarterbacks and two new coordinators.

“Each quarterback has his strengths,” Croom said. “Really, we just take the philosophy of we do what we do best.”