ARLINGTON, Texas — Heading into Saturday night's marquee matchup between No. 16 Auburn and No. 11 Oregon was a looming question: How would the Auburn defense do against the Oregon offense?
Auburn's defensive line, which was seen as one of the best in the country, would be going up against one of the best offensive lines in the country in Oregon. Not only did Auburn have to win the battle in the trenches, they also had to contain Oregon's QB Justin Herbert, who is seen by many NFL analysts as a top prospect.
Oregon, which averaged 34.85 points a game in 2018 and 427.2 yards per game, was going to be stiff competition out of the gate for the Tigers defense, which had to replace key members in the offseason like three-year starter Deshaun Davis.
Auburn's defense seemed to be in trouble following the first quarter, which saw the Tigers give up 14 points and 176 total yards of offense. But the hard-nosed Tigers defense, led by standout players like seniors Derrick Brown and Jeremiah Dinson, refused to give up.
Following the first-quarter issues, Auburn rebounded, only allowing through the next three quarters a combined total of 156 yards and seven points.
The Tigers' defense finished the game with three sacks for a loss of 20 yards and an 83-yard fumble recovery by Big Kat Bryant to set up an eventual field goal for Auburn.
Dinson, the team leader in tackles, sacks and tackles for loss in the game against Oregon, spoke about the adjustments, or lack thereof, following the first quarter.
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"We really had the same game plan, to be honest with you," Dinson said. "But you know first game of the year, as a whole I feel like we were kind of jittery we had to calm down, you know and play our game. We came in at halftime, and everyone had positive talk amongst each other, no one had no negative thoughts or negative sayings. We came back and shut them down."
Brown, a first team preseason All-American, also noted that the Auburn defense didn't get adjusted; they just settled down and played the way that the Auburn defense knows how to.
"All credit to Oregon, they jumped out on us early and put in a lot of things," Brown said. "We knew they weren't going to come out with the eye candy, but knowing and stopping it are two different things.
"We just were able to get it settled down in the second quarter and just kind of continued on from there and played Auburn defense. We've gotta go back to the drawing board and get back to work though."
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