Auburn, Ala.--It has been three full years, his junior season at Vigor High in Prichard, since DeShaun Davis played any meaningful defensive snaps at linebacker. It didn’t take him long to find his rhythm on Saturday night against one of the top offensive units in the country however as the redshirt sophomore was perhaps the best player on the field for an Auburn defense that held Clemson to just 19 points.
Impressing Coach Travis Williams throughout the spring and preseason, Davis was all over the field on Saturday night, but he said they came up a little short against Deshaun Watson in the end.
“He’s an electrifying guy,” Davis said of Watson. “So, you’ve got to respect his legs. As you can see he can make any kind of throw with the ball. He keeps you on your toes when you’re out there. You’ve got to respect his game. I think he played a really good game. I think as a unit their offense did what it took to win the game. We just have to find a way to get better and come out next week with a W.”
Even though Auburn didn’t get the victory it was another huge step in the right direction for Auburn’s defense, building on last year’s bowl win over Memphis. While it wasn’t a win, Saturday night’s play may have been even more impressive considering the players on the other sideline.
For Davis it was the culmination of a lot of hard work and frustration. Having to sit and watch last year, he said getting back into action was like riding a bike for him.
“I was ready,” Davis said. “Coach T Will told me before the game that he’s been having me chained back and he was going to let me loose. I got a lot of reps and I had a lot of fun and played a lot of football. I felt comfortable from the first snap.”
The reason for that was his film study and preparation. Calling out Clemson’s offensive plays time and time again, Davis said he’s worked hard to be ready and it paid off on Saturday night.
“What I really key my game on is trying to know what the offense is doing before they’re doing it. It’s discouraging for an offense when a linebacker is telling them where the ball is going before they even snap the ball.
“We had two weeks to prepare for these guys so we were ready for really anything they threw at us,” he added. “That’s an area of my game I try to get the upper hand on and I feel like it paid off tonight.”