Auburn, Ala.--Entering Auburn with plenty of fanfare coming out of tiny Dooly County High School in Georgia as one of the nation’s top defensive tackle prospects in the country, Montravius Adams had shown glimpses of promise in his first two seasons of the Tigers, but much more was expected of him.
On Saturday against Louisville in the season opener Adams delivered. In the backfield with just about every snap, Adams finished the game with seven tackles, one sack, one and a half tackles for losses, and also a forced fumble which led to Justin Garrett’s touchdown return that covered 82 yards.
That was the kind of production Coach Rodney Garner has been looking for out of Adams since he first stepped foot on campus. Showing the constant effort and drive to make plays with every snap, Adams definitely impressed his head coach with his performance in week one.
“I think Montravius had his best overall game since he has been here,” Gus Malzahn said. “He played quite a few snaps. He played extremely hard. He was very, very disruptive. He was the one who caused the fumble that got picked up for six points.
“He put a lot of pressure in the quarterback space, on the passing downs and of course in the run game he was very good. He took that next step.
“Coach (Will) Muschamp was really challenging him and Coach Garner challenged him to just take that next step about being an elite player and playing with unbelievable effort and intensity. He took that to heart.”
Slimming down to under 300 pounds has meant more explosiveness and better conditioning for Adams, something that showed up in the opener. With the ability to get to the quarterback from the interior he should be a huge help for the rest of the defense with teams having to put more emphasis on helping in the middle.
Some of the improved play of Adams is no doubt coming from the addition of redshirt freshman Dontavius Russell into the rotation as well. The player that Garner singled out during spring practice as the top performer on the defensive line, Russell made six tackles with one and a half sacks and two and a half tackles for losses.
He was just one of several young or inexperienced players that got a chance to see major action in the win over Louisville. With SEC play starting in two weekends with a trip to LSU on the docket the opener was a great opportunity to begin to build depth up front, something Malzahn said is still a big need for the Tigers.
“I thought they did a good job; they disrupted things,” Malzahn said of the defensive line. “Even in the second half they disrupted things. We just lost containment on that young quarterback; he was just electric.
“Coach Muschamp really wants to develop that depth early. He really believes in playing those younger guys. It will do nothing but help us in the future as the season goes on because you need depth up front.”