Dunn's D-Line Faces Test

Don Dunn looks back at his players' performances against Mississippi State and looks ahead to the keys to victory over LSU.

Auburn, Ala.--The young Auburn interior defensive line will have its biggest test so far this season at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday when the No. 6 LSU Tigers roll into Jordan-Hare Stadium looking to knock off the third-ranked team in the country.

Only one interior defensive lineman, Josh Thompson, has any significant amount of playing experience at the collegiate level. That's not good news facing an offense that is averaging 465 yards per contest.

"They've got two starters returning (up front)," Auburn defensive tackles coach Don Dunn says. "They've got some big offensive linemen. They're physical and they have great skill players.

"They're a typical LSU team with a lot of big-play weapons. We've got to stop the run. They've got a big, strong quarterback who can run the ball. He's not a real runner, but he can when he has to. It's going to be a real challenge for a young team like we have up front."

Rotating in four backs--Alley Broussard, Justin Vincent, Jacob Hester and Charles Scott--in wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and Arizona, the Tigers are averaging 200.5 yards per game on the ground.

"We have to tackle well everywhere this week," Dunn says. "If you watched any of their game against Arizona or you've seen them on film, they break a lot of tackles and we can't allow them to get a big play and get on a roll. They strive on the big play. We've got to stop the run and tackle well."

Dunn says that junior college transfer noseguard Greg Smith is not in playing shape and is unlikely to see action against LSU. That means that freshman Jermarcus Ricks is the fifth player in the playing rotation at the two inside spots.

Ricks did his job in Auburn's 34-0 victory over Mississippi State. In his first career play he almost scored a touchdown.

"The first college snap he does a great job on the pass rush," Dunn says. "He takes his guy and pushes him back into the quarterback. Pat Sims did a great job of causing the fumble and he was in the right place at the right time, scooped it up and took off."

Jermarcus Ricks goes for the scoop and score play vs. Mississippi State.

However, Ricks was caught from behind by MSU quarterback Tray Rutland. "It's pretty funny," Dunn jokes.

Sims, who rotates between the two spots because of his pass rushing ability on third downs, was the Auburn defensive player of the week.

"We always talk about our production points and he had a real good game," Dunn says of Sims. "He had a sack and a half, made some big plays, caused a fumble, had some extra effort plays running around and had a real solid game. He and Sen'Derrick Marks both played well. So did Josh Thompson and Tez (Doolittle) played well. So did Jermarcus the little bit he was in there.

"We've got to keep getting better and it's going to be a whole different deal this week," Dunn adds. "It gets tougher and tougher as we go along."

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