Nosa Breaks Down The Defensive Line

Auburn sophomore defensive end Nosa Eguae talks about his role as a leader and the development of the front four.

Auburn, Ala--After redshirting in 2009, defensive end Nosa Eguae broke out in a big way last season for the Auburn Tigers as he finished the year with 22 tackles, three and a half sacks and seven, and a half tackles for a loss. Now the most proven of any of Auburn's defensive linemen and a player that has the confidence to set the tone for his teammates, Eguae said he's taking on a more active role as a leader this spring.

"Leadership qualities are something you're born with, and I think I'm blessed to become a leader," Eguae said. "I think I was born leadership qualities. If you come out there and do what you have to do to get your job done, and if you're getting better every day, other people around you going to get better. Those are the types of things I'm trying to do. I'm not doing anything any differently."

Having to replace departed seniors Michael Goggans, Mike Blanc, Zach Clayton and Antoine Carter as well as SEC Defensive Player of the Year Nick Fairley, new Auburn defensive line coach Mike Pelton has his work cut out for him.

Even though the Tigers have just a few players up front that have played in a game not involving mop-up duty it doesn't mean the end of the world according to Eguae. Knowing what it's like to make the jump from backup to starter, the same move he made in 2010, Eguae said you just have to do things a little differently when you move to the first team.

"It's a difference," Eguae said. "When you come out there and you're second team you can watch, you could have a feel for how the game is going and, boom, you can get in there and make plays. But when you're first team up, you're the one setting the tone. That's the big thing, it's about setting the tone.

"Even when you're first team during practice, you've got to be the guy who is first in line. You're the guy everybody is looking at. It's different for a lot of these guys – for guys like Corey (Corey Lemonier), Big Jeff (Jeffrey Whitaker), Kenneth Carter – they're starting to see, `I've got to set a tone. I can't just wait and watch an Antoine Carter or Michael Blanc make a play. I've got to make a play first."

Along with Dee Ford, Eguae has more experience than any other member of Auburn's defensive line and is a good player to get a gauge on how his teammates are performing. When asked about last year's freshman class Eguae had lots of good things to say about the future of the Tigers' defensive front starting at end.

"Craig is just getting better every day," Eguae said. "We talked the other day about just competing. When I'm out there and make a play, he wants to go out there and make a play, too. When I see him make a play, I want to go out there and make a play, too. We're just feeding off each other. That's the thing I like about Craig. He's about getting better, and that's what I'm about. We're a good unit as far as strong-side end position.

"Corey has those natural abilities of being a superstar. He's just that good. It's a type of thing like Craig and I. We feed off each other. When I see him make a play, I want to make a play. We work good together. Him and Dee. Justin Delaine is getting better. When you continue to get better every day, like he wants to do, and asks questions, he's trying to get better."

While defensive end looks to be in good shape, in the middle the Tigers are a long way to go according to Pelton. With Carter and Whitaker the solid one-two and players such as Derrick Lykes and Jamar Travis trying to provide some depth until the freshman class arrives in August, Eguae said he's seen some improvements out of the sophomores.

"Inside, Ken, he's a really commanding a presence now," Eguae said. "In the beginning, he was just there. Now, he's commanding that presence. He's trying to be that three-technique, like last year, and the year before, of the big-time defensive tackles we've had before at Auburn University. He's getting better, too.

"And Jeff, he's Big Jeff. Jeff is always a guy who can have that demeanor that you can joke around a little bit, but when it comes time to play, he's holding down that A Gap being a hell of a noseguard. Those guys are coming along very well."

With the annual A-Day game coming up this Saturday at 2 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium lots of eyes will be on the quarterback position and rightfully so, but being better on defense is of the utmost importance. That starts up front and Egaue said if they can continue to perform like they've done this spring then the defense will be on the right track.

"We're definitely taking steps ahead in the way we're progressing becoming a defense, a good unit, and doing the types of it takes to win in the SEC," Eguae said. "In the beginning of the spring, we were young, but, progressively, we're beginning to get confidence, and do the little things right to win games. That's what it is really about. The spring is about getting better every day, and getting better to win football games."

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