Auburn, Ala.--If the Auburn Tigers hope to break a seven-game losing streak at LSU it will be up to Will Muschamp's defense to get the job done against a powerful ground game led by Leonard Fournette. While the defense is far from the only key area for Auburn this weekend, slowing LSU’s offense would go a long way towards coming home with a win for Coach Gus Malzahn’s football team.
With key contributors on defense missing time each of the first two weeks and starters Carl Lawson, Tray Matthews and Justin Garrett still questionable for this week it makes the progression of young players even more important. Different names and faces have meant breakdowns for Auburn’s defense, something Muschamp pointed out must get fixed before the SEC opener.
“We need to play within our scheme and system,” the defensive coordinator said. “We just need to execute the call. If we’ll do that, then we’re going to be fine. We got some guys unfortunately in some situations whether it’s lack of knowledge or understanding or eye control or whatever, don’t always execute the exact call.
“That’s, you can’t win that way, you just can’t do it. You continue to do the same things you’re going to get the same results. That’s my message for our defense. We’ve got to change, we’ve got to continue to evolve to be a more disciplined group.”
A player who has evolved into a force in the middle for Auburn so far in 2015 is defensive tackle Montravius Adams.
Already with 13 tackles, one sack and one and a half tackles for losses this season with a pair of quarterback hurries, Adams is well on his way to running past his totals from a year ago, but the defense hasn’t seen the improvement that was expected in Muschamp’s first year back.
“Right now I really don’t have the answer,” Adams said. “I’m actually trying to find the answer too. You said I had a good game, I’m asking coaches if there’s anything else I can do. At the end of the day we’ll take that win, but they shouldn’t be scoring that many points and have that many yards on us.”
Limiting the yardage will be a huge key this week against Fournette after he piled up 159 yards and three touchdowns at Mississippi State after LSU’s opener was cancelled because of bad weather. A year ago Auburn held Fournette to just 42 yards and LSU to a total of only 138 rushing yards in a 41-7 win, but Adams said this year you can see a different guy in the big sophomore.
“Last year was kind of a different story, but then again he was a freshman last year so he’s matured in a lot of ways,” Adams said. “I watched some of that game and I think he had a pretty good game. I think he had like 160 or something.
“Mississippi State is a good team so they do have a good front seven," Adams said. "For him to have that many yards on them, that’s saying a lot. Overall I think he’s a good back. I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us and we’re just ready to see what happens.”
With Auburn searching for its first win at LSU since 1999 it should be a fired up team when the Tigers hit the road, but they should find a group of Bengal Tigers just as motivated. Blasted a year ago at Jordan-Hare Stadium, LSU should have plenty of desire on Saturday as well, something Adams said Auburn is very much aware of as the Tigers open SEC play.
“I think they’ll be motivated because of that and because they (want to be) 2-0,” Adams said. “They’re at home and you usually play your best ball at home. I just think they’ll be motivated in all three factors. Then again, we’re coming for a fight.”