AUBURN, Ala. — Coming off a near-flawless defensive performance on Saturday, Gabe Wright was miffed by the line of questioning.
The senior defensive lineman had just walked off the field with other members of the Tigers' starting unit, which allowed only three points in Saturday's A-Day game. Yet once more, Wright had to answer about whether the defense was lost in the shadow of the first-team offense, which put up 44 points in just 24 minutes of play.
It was like last season all over again.
"If you’re going to ask me did the offense overshadow us last year? Then no, in no way (or) form," said Wright, a Carver alum who notched one tackle Saturday. "I understand that offense wins games. (But) defense wins championships. That’s the motto that we go by. We’re still about togetherness, so as a team we don’t really think about it like that. Our head coach preaches the philosophy of getting better each day, and that’s really our mind-set when we come to practice."
Never miss a local story.
Despite what Gus Malzahn deemed a "banged-up" unit in his postgame press conference, Auburn's starting defenders allowed the second-team offense little traction. The White team gained just 85 yards of total offense — 48 passing, 37 rushing — and didn't sniff the end zone. Even its only score was no gimme, as redshirt freshman kicker Daniel Carlson had to convert on a 50-yard field goal to get the White squad on the board with 2:17 remaining in the first quarter.
The Tigers' impeccable showing came without Carl Lawson and LaDarius Owens, the expected starters at left and right end, respectively. A pair of other starters — linebacker Cassanova McKinzy (hip and tailbone) and Star Robenson Therezie (hand) — played with nagging injuries
So let others continue to fixate on offensive pyrotechnics, Wright said.
He's fine with letting the defense's play speak for itself.
"The first-team unit, we did better," he said. "There wasn’t a lot of 'loafs' according to the coaches. Guys were making plays, so overall, I feel like it’s a win for us."