News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Marks does his job for AU defense

By Ross Dellenger · 340-2460

AUBURN — Sitting on a leather couch in the lounge of Auburn's athletic building, defensive end Sen'Derrick Marks said he didn't expect things to be so simple Saturday night.

A puzzled Marks couldn't believe he assisted in one of the most prolific defensive outings in school history, shutting down Arkansas' tailback tandem of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.

"I expected them to break more tackles," Marks said Monday, just two days removed from a 9-7 win over Arkansas, "to have more yards after contact, outrun a couple of guys."

But they didn't.

An integral part of Auburn's vaunted defense, Marks was one of the biggest reasons the Tigers limited McFadden and Jones to a combined 82 rushing yards, 199 short of their average. Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick got a front-row seat to Marks and Auburn's smothering defensive line and linebacker corps.

"Auburn's front seven were great at stopping the run and never allowed us to get anything going," Dick said after the game.

The 6-foot-1, 290-pound Marks had just four tackles in the Tigers' fourth straight win. But he did his job. As part of the game plan heading into the matchup, the linebackers were supposed to get all the tackles.

Marks' job was to force McFadden and Jones inside, not to let them hit the outside corner. Once inside, linebackers had the job of stopping them.

And they succeeded. Auburn's three starting linebackers were the top three tacklers, making 40 percent of the team's stops.

"When they cut back, those guys made plays," Marks said. "Everybody was just doing what they were assigned to do. (Defensive coordinator Will) Muschamp had a great game plan to stop them."

Marks isn't quite sure what Muschamp has in store for this Saturday when No. 18 Auburn (5-2, 3-1 SEC) faces No. 5 LSU (6-1, 3-1) in Baton Rouge, La. The Tigers' running attack is second to only Arkansas in the league, a good sign since Auburn already stuffed the Razorbacks high-powered, big-play ground game. Arkansas had just two rushing plays for more than 10 yards.

"We played a lot of basic defenses," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "Most of the time, we just let them play into our hands, force them to go the distance."

The Tigers sacked Dick twice. They rarely blitzed, choosing to let the linebackers roam and the defensive linemen push McFadden and Jones inside, creating a wall of commotion.

"(Saturday) night was not a sic 'em night," Tuberville said. "You run by one of those guys, and they're gone the other way."

Marks said the predictability of Arkansas' running game helped the Tigers anticipate where McFadden or Jones were headed.

The defense got its cue from the formations.

"There are just certain plays you can run out of certain formations," Marks said.

It helped that Arkansas ran just 52 total plays. Alone, the Razorbacks averaged 52 rushing attempts a game entering the contest. Saturday night, they got only 25.

"You'll win a lot of games doing that," Tuberville said.

Auburn at LSU

8 p.m.

Auburn’s big defensive day

Auburn’s defense stifled Arkansas’ formidable rushing attack, including stars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, in the Tigers’ 9-7 victory Saturday.

Average before Total against

Stat Category Saturday Auburn

Rushing attempts 52 5

Rushing yards 338 67

Yards a carry 6.5 2.7

McFadden’s rushing yards 155 43

Jones’ rushing yards 126 42

Rushing touchdowns 2.80

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