That is exactly the case for the Auburn Tigers through two games. As a team the Tigers have 17 tackles for losses and seven sacks. The majority of that has come from the defensive line as Antoine Carter and Nick Fairley have three sacks and four tackles for losses each. Senior linebacker Josh Bynes said he's seen a much different group this time around and it is working well to this point.
"They are getting a lot of pressure," Bynes said. "They are doing a lot of things together and it makes them like brothers on the field. Off the field I'm always with the defensive linemen. I always try to keep a good relationship with them because they are going to be the guys that protect me at the end of the day."
A veteran, Carter has been solid in limited use up to this point in his career. For Fairley it has been a different story. A junior college transfer, Fairley struggled with being consistent last season and that was one of the things coach Tracy Rocker has harped on the Mobile native heading into the new season.
Thursday night in the win over Mississippi State it was Fairley's turn to shine. Dominating from start to finish, Fairley went through, over and around the Bulldogs on the way to being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Bynes said he's seen a lot of improvement out of Fairley so far this year.
"He played like that the first game but I think it really showed in the last game in the national spotlight against Mississippi State," Bynes said of Fairley. "He's a heck of an athlete.
"I think he can be a really big force up front," Bynes added. "We need defensive linemen like that to make the defense have some variety with different packages we can throw at them. We see our front four getting pressure without any blitzes and we can do a lot of things defensively."
One thing that has helped the front four is the emergence of several talented young players capable of giving the starters a break during the game. Building depth at every position is vital for the success of a team but it's especially true on the front four. Bynes said that's something he's noticed early in the year and it's exciting to him.
"You have Nosa (Nosa Eguae), Craig Sanders, Whitaker (Jeffrey Whitaker) and Kenneth Carter, all those guys coming in as freshmen and doing what they are supposed to do," Bynes said. "They are playing just as well as the first group. I don't feel like we miss a beat with the young guys in there."
This week Bynes and the defense will have its work cut out facing a talented Clemson offense on national television. Making it even bigger is the presence of ESPN Gameday on the Plains. While the players won't be a part of the festivities the senior said it's exciting to be a part of something so big at Auburn.
"I don't think it brings any pressure," Bynes said. "I think it brings more excitement to the game. We're going out there in front of Gameday and they'll be showing pre-game stuff all about Auburn and Clemson. It's going to make it a better game. We'll be more motivated knowing we have to go out there and play a heck of a football game."