Gabe Gross at Auburn University on Wednesday, July 29, 2015.Auburn had to have a win against Kentucky in Lexington on Thursday night, and the Tigers got it.It was pretty at times, and it was ugly at times, but it was a win.Defensively, improvement has to come across the board still. Kentucky came into the game averaging less than 400 yards of total offense per game. Auburn gave up nearly 500 yards to the Wildcats.Beyond the 60-yard run by Boom Williams on the first drive, Auburn did a decent job against the run, only allowing Kentucky 78 more yards rushing. In the passing game however, the Tigers gave up 359 yards. Add it all up, and Auburn gave Kenucky 497 yards of total offense.Those are sobering numbers, but there were some big positives defensively. Auburn had three sacks on the night, which is very encouraging to see especially when one came on fourth down with the game on the line. I thought Auburn’s secondary had one of the best tackling games in recent memory. There were very few missed tackles or big gains because of missed tackles. Finally, when the game was on the line, the defense as a whole held. Defensively, Auburn did not play great, but with the game and possibly their season on the line, the Tigers defense stopped Kentucky and secured the win.Gus Malzahn made the decision to start Sean White again after opening the quarterback race up over the bye week. White in turn rewarded Malzahn’s decision by playing the best game of his very short Auburn career.I felt like Malzahn had to open the offense up by throwing the ball down the field more on early downs. He did exactly that early in the game. White answered the bell when his name was called and earned a lot of trust from his coaches throughout the game.Even bigger than earning the trust of his coaches though, he earned more respect from his teammates. You can’t overestimate the importance of having a trigger man that everyone believes is going to make a play when it is needed most.When a football team doesn’t believe in their quarterback, it affects how everyone on the field plays both offensively and defensively. On the flip side of that, when a team starts believing in their signal caller, it tends to raise everyone’s level of play.White earned his coaches’ trust by executing the early pass-happy game plan without turning the ball over to Kentucky.More importantly though, he earned the respect of his teammates when he took the ball in the fourth quarter with the momentum of the game in Kentucky’s favor and delivered a touchdown drive that proved to be the difference in the game.I do not know what the rest of this season holds for Auburn. However I do believe if Auburn is able to win some big games in November and turn this season into one of overcoming adversity and not one of giving into it, you will be able to look back at a 34 yard completion from White to Ricardo Lewis on a fourth-quarter drive on the road in Lexington that sparked a win against Kentucky as a turning point.I know this was Kentucky and not Georgia. I know this hostile environment was in Lexington and not College Station. I know there are much bigger challenges that await this Auburn team down the road. However, Auburn might have just gotten what it needed the most from this game, belief in themselves.If the Tigers were truly honest, I believe Auburn players came into this game passionate and ready to play, but also with lots of lingering doubts about themselves. You don’t go into a season with national championship aspirations and suffer through what Auburn has gone through this year without doubt creeping into the picture.When the fourth quarter started and Kentucky had all the momentum, White led Auburn on a crucial touchdown drive, and with everything on the line, Auburn’s defense proved to themselves it can stop a team when it matters most.Auburn still has a tremendous journey if front of them, but as the Chinese philosopher Laozi put it, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Thursday night in Lexington looked like a step in the right direction to me.