Lemonier Steps Up Again for Auburn's Defense

Sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier is blossoming into a standout performance for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--For sophomore defensive end Corey Lemonier, the Florida game couldn't have ended on a sweeter note.

The 6-foot-4 Hialeah, Fla., native swept into the backfield and sacked fellow Floridian Jeff Driskel for a five-yard loss on the game's final play to put an exclamation point on Auburn's 17–6 win over the Gators.

"This is the best thing," said Lemonier, who knew some of the Florida players from his high school playing days. "We played FAU, and I was just like was like ‘this was just nothing, but this game, it's important to me."

Lemonier made his presence known in the Florida backfield for most of the night, finishing with six tackles, two sacks for 16 yards, three tackles for loss for 20 yards, and four quarterback hurries.

The pressure that Auburn's defensive ends applied kept the Gators' offense, which finished with only 194 yards of total offense and two field goals, off-balance for much of the night.

"It's critical," said defensive coordinator Ted Roof on getting pressure. "The quarterbacks, the passing games and the coaches are too good in this league for a guy to sit back there and pat the ball or be able to throw without being effective. I thought tonight we were able to get good pressure at times against a very good football team."

Roof said he was pleased with the play of Lemonier, who has improved his play after adjusting to his new role as an every down defensive end.

"Cory's role was much different last year than it is this year," Roof said. "I think the transition from going from what his role was--kind of get in there sometimes and rush the passer guy--to now, a guy we're asking to make plays on a consistent basis for us.

"He was challenged after the third week of the season, and Cory's a competitor, and he responded, and so has his production and level of performance."

For strongside defensive end Nosa Eguae, who added two tackles and four quarterback hurries of his own, shutting down the speedy Florida offense was a matter of pride.

"As far as it comes in the SEC, if you can't stop the run, it's hard to get a victory," said the sophomore defensive end. "We just wanted to come out on the front and set the tone from the beginning and play four quarters of good football."

Florida, which entered the Auburn game averaging 194 yards a game on the ground, was held to a mere 66 yards on 30 carries. One key to stifling the SEC's fourth-best rushing attack was sealing the edge and stopping the Gators' perimeter game.

"We knew that they had a great perimeter run game, and they made some big plays against everybody with cutbacks, or outflanking people because they've got good players and they're well coached," Roof said. "I thought our kids just played hard and executed tonight. They saw the game, and there wasn't a sense of panic, or ‘oh, my gosh, this is a close game.'"

While the Auburn defense put together its best performance of the season, there is still work to be done, according to Roof.

"I'm really proud of them, proud of our coaches, and at the same time, there's going to be some things we don't like when we turn on the tape, but I thought it was another step forward," Roof said. "And that's what we've got to keep doing with our kids is just making sure every day we're taking a step forward and we're not going backwards. Tonight, I thought, was another step forward."

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