Position Coach Terry Price said that his group can set the tone for the entire unit with its play and it needs to begin on Saturday afternoon at Grant Field.
"One thing we're concentrating on is being more physical on both sides of the line of scrimmage," Price said. "We're doing a lot more one-on-one drills to get ready to anchor down and control the line of scrimmage. We have to do a better job of that up front. If we do a better job of that up front I think the whole defense will play a lot better."
Auburn's biggest challenge on defense vs. Tech will be containing true freshman quarterback Reggie Ball. A quick player off the end, the Stone Mountain native has taken over the Tech offense in just a few weeks on the job. Price said a player like Ball can give defensive coaches fits.
"He's an exciting young player," Price said. "He has tremendous speed and great shakes. He doesn't act like a freshman out there. He has a lot of composure, but the biggest thing you notice is his athletic ability. He finds seams and holes. When the pocket breaks down he knows where to go with the ball. He's an exciting player for them. He's not an exciting player for us because we have to try to stop him."
Doug Langenfeld in his first Auburn game.
The job for the Tigers this week is to get in the head of the freshman during the game and force him into making mistakes. Providing pressure will be a double-edge sword against Ball because of his ability to tuck it and run. That makes containing the pocket almost as important as collapsing it at times.
"That's one thing we talked about," Price said. "From blitzes to four-man rushes, contain is going to be vitally important. A guy like that you have to keep in the pocket. Once he gets to the sidelines and has a chance to run or throw that hurts the entire defense. We'll work all week long to make sure we use contain on all the defensive calls we have.
"You have to get that guy rattled," added Price. "Every freshman quarterback needs a comfort zone to be successful. If we can disrupt that comfort zone, keep him moving around, keep him active and looking for guys coming from all sides, that will be big-time to our advantage."
The Tigers will have a newcomer of their own take the field on Saturday in his second Division I game and he has high hopes that this one will turn out better than the first. Junior Doug Langenfeld, one of Auburn's top defensive players in the opener, said that his introduction to big-time college football wasn't a big deal for him.
"At first I was kind of nervous," Langenfeld said. "Once I got that first hit it was downhill from that. After the first play I got adjusted. There wasn't anything to do, but go out there and play. That's what I did and hopefully showed the coaches I can play on this level."
A speedy end who will share time with Torbor, Langenfeld has the ability to make plays in the backfield and always plays with his motor running full speed. That will be important this week facing a team like Georgia Tech and a quarterback like Ball.
"It's going to be a test," Langenfeld said. "The team we're playing has a big offensive line and that's going to be a challenge for us. They've got a little freshman quarterback who likes to tuck it and run. We have to do our assignments and play good football."
Langenfeld will have a special reason to play well on Saturday when he lines up against the Yellow Jackets. Growing up in South Carolina, he was friends with several former Tech standouts, including one of the best quarterbacks to ever play on Grant Field. He said that will make this a memorable game for him.
"I grew up watching Georgia Tech because Joe Hamilton stayed in my neighborhood almost," Langenfeld said. "I was kind of a fan of the home team. Other guys went to Georgia Tech from my high school like Ryan Stewart and Harvey Middleton. They're a good football team."