Film Room: 15 plays, -16 yards, 0 first downs and 0 points
It was one of the most dominant quarters of defense in recent memory. Here's a closer look at how Auburn forced five straight 3-and-outs against A&M.
DT Colby Wooden (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
If it wasn’t the most dominant single quarter of defense in Auburn football history, it was close.
In the third quarter, Texas A&M ran 14 plays against Auburn’s defense. Here’s a rundown of yardage for all 14 of those plays: 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, -1, 0, 0, 2 and -3. Then, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Texas A&M quarterback Conner Weigman fumbled the football on a sack that went for -13 yards.
That’s five drives, five three-and-outs. That’s a success rate of 0% for an entire quarter. The Aggies had more combined negative yards than offensive snaps during that stretch. Weigman went 1-11 passing for -3 yards. Both of Texas A&M’s handoffs were stuffed. The Tigers got pressure on more than half of Weigman’s dropbacks.
And the Aggies went more than 28 minutes of game time without getting a single first down.
“I was waiting for them to get a first down, because I wanted to stay on the field,” linebacker Cam Riley said after Auburn’s 13-10 win. “I got bored on the sideline, because it was just three-and-out every time.”
In the heat of the moment, Auburn’s defensive players weren’t exactly sure of just how dominant they were. Several of them were amazed in postgame interviews when they were informed about how long the three-and-out streak lasted.
“I don't know how many three-and-outs we had, but... Five in a row?” defensive lineman Colby Wooden said. “Oh, shoot. But, yeah, I didn't want them to get nothing. That's the mindset this whole defense had.”
The streak of five straight three-and-outs went a long way in Auburn notching a low-scoring win over Texas A&M, its first under interim head coach Cadillac Williams.
Auburn’s own offense went three-and-out twice and fumbled in the third quarter, but one of the quick stops the Tigers made deep inside Aggies territory immediately led to an important field goal late in the period. In the eyes of Auburn’s defensive leaders, though, the streak was just a case of hyper-focusing on what was coming next.
“I don’t think that’s something we ever really pay attention to,” edge rusher Derick Hall said. “We just get down and play the next play. That’s the biggest thing for us. We try not to look at the scoreboard, and we try not to look at who did this, who did that. We just try to go out and play dominant defense.”
For 15 plays, Auburn’s defense gained more yards of field position than Texas A&M’s own offense. It demoralized a struggling opponent that didn’t show any real signs of life until the final three minutes of the game.
And it was a showcase of how well all three levels of Auburn’s defense can play when it’s clicking together. The Tigers changed up pass-rushing looks, defensive fronts, personnel packages and coverages in order to keep the Aggies and their young quarterback completely off-balance in front of a passionate crowd.
In this Film Room, we’ll take a closer, play-by-play look at every defensive snap of the third quarter and the big play that opened the fourth quarter. How did a Tigers’ defense that has been so up-and-down this season put it all together for a remarkable hot streak?
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