Auburn, Ala.--Last season in 13 total games the Auburn Tigers made a total of just 19 sacks with five of them coming from converted linebacker turned rush end Cassanova McKinzy. On Saturday night against an always physical LSU offense, Auburn’s defense got to quarterback Danny Etling early and often, finishing with four sacks to push the season total to nine and setting the tone all night long.
That was one of the keys for the game according to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele, who said it didn’t take him long to see the impact the group had on the game.
“In watching the film last night, the defensive line, 1,3, 95 and 55, Carl Lawson, Dontavius (Russell), (Montravius) Adams and Marlon (Davidson), really, really played a good, solid football game,” Steele said. “They affected the line of scrimmage on most every snap. That was a good core group in there.”
While Lawson gets plenty of attention for his play, and rightfully so, one of the big keys for the defense and a catalyst for the Tigers so far this year has been senior tackle Montravius Adams.
Playing in all 13 games as a junior, Adams finished with 44 tackles, but just two and a half sacks and three tackles for losses. Already this season the powerful Georgia native has made 13 stops, but it has been his play behind the line of scrimmage that has been the difference. With two tackles for losses and half a sack against LSU, Adams already has matched his season total from a year ago for stops behind the line of scrimmage and needs just one sack to equal that total.
All over the place against LSU, Adams was at his best when pushing the line of scrimmage back, something he did quite frequently. That’s the kind of play that has been expected of the five-star prospect since he arrived at Auburn from Dooly County (Ga.) High, something sophomore linebacker Darrell Williams said he’s seen drive the senior leader to new heights so far in 2016.
"He's dominating,” Darrell Williams said. “That's a big key for us especially in the middle of that defense on the d-line. We've been needing him to play at his best and he's been doing that so far from the beginning of the year. He took this game pretty personal because of what happened last year.
“They feel like the d-line didn't play to the best of their ability last season. He's had that chip on his shoulder since the game last season. He talked to us as a leader before and he couldn't wait to get out there on that field. He took it upon himself to play the best."