Taking It Back To The Old School
It had been a long time since an Auburn football team stepped foot on the turf at Legion Field, but on Wednesday we were transported back in time when the Tigers put forth an effort former Auburn defensive coordinator Wayne Hall and the 1980‘s defenses would have been proud of producing.
Facing one of the top NFL prospects at quarterback in the country in Paxton Lynch, Auburn harassed him from start to finish as the Tigers shut down the powerful Memphis offense. Holding the other Tigers to just three offensive points and dominating the line of scrimmage, Auburn saved its best defensive performance of the year for last.
I’ll get to the secondary later, but Auburn’s front four was the story of the day for me. You don’t completely shut down a very good offense like Memphis without completely dominating the line of scrimmage. In the middle Montravius Adams and Dontavius Russell were making plays, but we finally saw a breakout performance from Devaroe Lawrence. The most talented of the interior players, according to DL cochRodney Garner, Lawrence may be a star in the making for Kevin Steele’s 2016 defense.
What A Job
I don’t think anybody knew what to really expect from Auburn’s defense against Memphis with Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson moving on to South Carolina, but you can’t say enough about the job that Lance Thompson, Rodney Garner, Travis Williams and Blake Gideon did in directing the defense the last few weeks.
Calling the plays of the defense, Thompson did a masterful job of keeping Memphis off-balance by mixing things up time and time again. Garner’s guys up front were disruptive from the get-go. Williams is Mr. Energy on the sidelines, something his players used to make plays all over the field. That leaves Gideon. Gideon is a rising star as a defensive coach and it won’t surprise me if he’s one of the up-and-coming defensive coordinators in just a few years.
I’m sure if I thought hard enough I could find a more impressive display by an Auburn cornerback in the last 10 years or so, but right now nothing comes to mind that matches up with what true freshman Carlton Davis did against Memphis. Credited with 11 tackles, but seemingly in on at least half a dozen more, Davis has steadily improved his physicality outside while making more and more plays on the ball.
I have honestly started to question when teams throw his way, something I think we’ll see less and less of in the coming years now that teams have seen him in action. His numbers may not wow people as a sophomore or junior because people may choose to stay away from him, but make no mistake that Davis is a player who can/will have as much impact as any in a long time on an Auburn defense.
Getting A Steele
When you look at the hire of Steele as Auburn’s new defensive coordinator it’s a strong one on several different fronts. First and foremost Steele is a very good coach who has a history of working under some very good coaches like Bobby Bowden, Dom Capers, Tom Osborne and Nick Saban. Coming off an impressive performance as LSU’s coordinator in a win over Texas Tech, Steele has proven he can get the job done.
Another big thing that Steele brings to the table is on the recruiting front. A very good evaluator and recruiter, Steele could have an impact right away for Auburn with guys such as Rashan Gary and Ben Davis both very familiar with him from their interest in LSU.