Jeff Holland knew he had mismatch against Alabama's Matt Womack in Iron Bowl

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Jeff Holland knew he had mismatch against Alabama's Matt Womack in Iron Bowl

Auburn only sacked Jalen Hurts twice during its Iron Bowl win on Saturday, but the Tigers caused havoc in the Tide backfield throughout the 26-14 affair.

That was largely thanks to Jeff Holland.

Holland dominated his matchup with Alabama right tackle Matt Womack, often leaving Hurts with little time to work in the pocket and forcing several key throwaways throughout the game.

"He showed some tendencies on film," Holland said of Womack. "I mean, once we got the game rolling and getting started, once I got in my groove, I felt good against him."

Holland felt he had a mismatch against Womack all game, and it certainly showed. The Auburn junior edge rusher, who has earned the nickname Sensei Mud after spending time in the offseason doing hand-to-hand combat training to improve his technique, finished with three quarterback hurries to go along with two tackles as Hurts became well acquainted with one of the nation's premier pass-rushers.

When Auburn knew it had Alabama beat in Iron Bowl

"I got the first step on him and got to the edge," Holland said. "I kind of brushed the quarterback a little bit."

Holland forced a throwaway by Hurts on Alabama's opening drive for his first hurry of the day.

His second came in the third quarter, when he manhandled the 6-foot-7, 324-pound Womack and pushed him nearly 10 yards back into Hurts, who was flushed out of the pocket to his left before throwing the ball out of bounds. That came one play after Holland made a stop against Alabama running back Josh Jacobs.

Holland added a third hurry in the fourth quarter, when he pressured Hurts on a shovel pass attempt to Jacobs that went for no gain thanks to a tackle by Nick Coe.

Grading Auburn's 26-14 win against Alabama

Auburn finished the game with nine hurries and two sacks, courtesy of Coe and Davis, and Holland was a major reason why as he won his individual assignment repeatedly throughout the game. As a result, Hurts finished just 12-of-22 passing for 112 yards and a touchdown while adding another 82 yards on 18 carries.

"We just didn't do a good enough job in the passing game, but that is not just Jalen," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "We didn't have good enough protection, we didn't have guys getting open. Maybe we just needed to have better design in what we did, and he probably could have done a better job of reading some things."

The 6-foot-2, 249-pound Holland, who has nine sacks on the season and is 2.5 away from tying the Auburn single-season record, implied he could have been even more effective in the pass rush during Saturday's win.

"I was getting held a little bit, but I never complain," Holland said. "I just go to the next play."

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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