Auburn postgame notes

Fairley flagged … again
It wouldn’t be an Auburn game without some controversy surrounding defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Or a couple of sacks by the Tigers junior.

Fairley recorded his first sack of Auburn’s 28-27 win over Alabama on Friday in the first half, throwing Greg McElroy for an 11-yard loss and what appeared to be a third-down stop.

But he was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on his celebration, leading to a manageable fourth-and-3, leading to a Crimson Tide conversion, leading to a 12-yard touchdown pass from McElroy to Darius Hanks to put Alabama up 21-0 in the first.

“I got a little excited after a play, that’s all,” said Fairley, speaking to the media for the first time in nearly three weeks. “It was my mistake. I just got to calm down and keep my composure a little better, that’s all.”

The Nagurski and Lombardi award finalist showed why in one play late in the first half, sacking McElroy, forcing a fumble and recovering it to quash an Alabama scoring threat inside the Auburn 10.

Fairley said none of the Tide offensive linemen made a motion to recover the fumble.

“I didn’t hear the whistle, but I saw the ball rolling,” Fairley said. “So, you know what I’m saying? Something had to be going on.”

Fairley’s breakout junior season now includes a league-high 20 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks, which ranks second in the SEC.

Freeman’s finest
Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof decided to start junior Eltoro Freeman in the linebacker spot usually occupied by sophomore Daren Bates against Alabama.

Freeman repaid the coach’s confidence with one of the best games of his Auburn career, recording nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack.

“It’s been coming,” Roof said. “He’s been growing both on the field and off the field. It wasn’t always perfect, but I’m proud of him and how far he’s come.”

Record-breaking offense
On Auburn’s worst offensive game of the season, it still managed to set two single-season records.

The Tigers managed a season-low 324 yards against the Crimson Tide – a full 181.2 below their per-game average – but needed only 57 to break the single-season record for total offense (5,613) set by last year’s team.

Auburn now has 5,881 yards for the year.

The Tigers’ total of 108 rushing yards was also their worst output of the season and clocked in at 199.9 yards fewer than their per-game average coming in.

But they needed only 52 to set a new single-season rushing record, breaking the 1985 team’s mark of 3,438.

Auburn sits at 3,495 rushing yards, with two more games to add on.

Cam baiting
Friday marked junior quarterback Cam Newton’s first trip from the cozy confines of Jordan-Hare Stadium since pay-for-play allegations surrounding him surfaced earlier this month.

And Bryant-Denny Stadium let Newton know he was far from home.

Newton and the rest of the Tigers took the field for the first time about two hours before the game to the strains of the Steve Miller Band’s “Take the Money and Run,” and Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a
Preacher Man,” referring to Newton’s pastor father, Cecil, who has been accused of asking for money during his son’s recruitment.

Students in the Alabama cheering section also tossed fake money with a picture of Newton’s mugshot from his arrest at the University of Florida at him as he walked back to the locker room after the quarterbacks’ pre-game meeting with offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.

Signs at the game included, “Dude, where’s my laptop?” and “Weagle, weagle, Cam’s illegal.”

Newton now has 1,336 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns to go along with 2,254 yards and 24 scores through the air this year.

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