Defense excels against 'scary offense'

Bryan Matthews, Senior Editor
Auburn Sports

Missouri’s sleeping giant of an offense didn’t wake up Saturday night. No. 15 Auburn’s defense made sure of it.

Missouri had just 34 yards in the first quarter as Auburn opened up a big lead on the way to a 51-14 blowout road win.

“I’m so impressed with our defense. They’re playing great,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. “That’s a very scary offense. You always worried about them breaking out. We thought we’d get their best effort. But our guys started out so well and really kept them behind.”

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Jay G. Tate/AuburnSports.com

Auburn’s coaching staff knew the potential of a Missouri offense that scored 72 points in an opening win over Missouri State and returned nine starters from a unit that led the SEC averaging 500.5 yards per game last season.

But that offense, led by quarterback Drew Lock and wide receiver J’Mon Moore, scored just 16 points over the last two games and managed just 203 yards of total offense in a 35-3 loss to Purdue a week earlier.

Missouri finished with 340 yards of total offense against Auburn but didn’t surpass the 100-yard mark until a touchdown drive late in the second quarter and already trailing 28-0. Auburn answered with 23 straight points before Missouri added a fourth-quarter touchdown.

“Hats off to our guys,” secondary coach Greg Brown said. “I thought that they all sunk their teeth into the game plan that Kevin Steele laid out for them. I really thought that everybody bought in and competed. They do what they did and that’s play to an Auburn standard.”

Auburn’s defense forced four turnovers — three fumbles and an interception — that the offense converted into 17 points. Missouri had 124 yards rushing on 31 carries, was 4-of-13 on third down and was sacked twice.

“We just wanted to go in with complete focus, everybody do their job type stuff. Fly around with extra energy, effort,” said linebacker Montavious Atkinson, who led Auburn with six tackles and forced a fumble.

“It’s a good feeling because it’s going to give us momentum into that next game and that’s what we were looking for when we came here tonight, just to take the W and get that momentum.”

Auburn hosts No. 17 Mississippi State next Saturday at 5 p.m. CT on ESPN.

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