Auburn, Ala.--Ten games into the football season the Auburn Tigers have 5-5 record heading into a non-conference contest vs. the Idaho Vandals this Saturday (3 p.m. CST, SEC Network alternate channel). Game by game the defense has improved with its statistically best overall outing coming against the Georgia Bulldogs in a 20-13 losing effort.
The Tigers limited the Dawgs’ offense to 243 total yards, a good 143 yards below their season average. One player who showed individual improvement on Saturday was junior defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence. The Greenville, S.C., native was a disruptive force in the Bulldogs’ backfield on multiple occasions and, according to Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp, finally showed what he is capable of doing.
“He played his best game,” said Muschamp. “He made a great play on the goal line on third down. He made an outstanding play on another third-down stop where he was on a one-on-one situation. He continues to progress, he continues to get better.”
Lawrence’s “best game” included a stat line of five tackles with two for losses. Muschamp noted that Lawrence made his best play to date on the goal line stand.
“It was a huge momentum swing,” Muschamp said. “Devaroe made a play there on third down. Montravius (Adams) and Dontavius (Russell), what we call a two-fer, they ate up the double team which freed up Devaroe on the play.”
On the year the juco transfer has recorded 27 total tackles and half a sack. “He has got to continue to improve,” Muschamp pointed out. “You would like for him to have more production early in the year. He had plenty of opportunities. He is starting to produce now. I am very pleased with his performance.”
Lawrence said his focus going forward is less on his individual accomplishment and more on the team’s performance in the upcoming games.
“I feel like I played alright,” Lawrence said, “but we have to get better as a team so we will stop coming up short of being on the winning side. We need to go back to work, get ready to beat Idaho and keep getting better on defense.”
Lawrence said he has seen improvement in the defense throughout the year pointed out that is due to the unity the group has formed since the first game.
“We are getting better as a group,” he said. “Everybody is starting to play within the scheme, play assignment football and trust each other. That has been the key.”
Junior defensive tackle Montravius Adams has noticed Lawrence's improvement. "The last couple of weeks I think he's been playing how people thought he should have been playing earlier," Adams said. "He's living up to what he should have been doing. I think he's been getting better every week as I see it on film and the coaches do. I just think if he comes to practice and keeps doing what the coaches say he's going to get better every week."