Young Players Contributing to AU's Defense

Auburn's defense is relying on a variety of young players this season.

Auburn, Ala.--Young players have been making a contribution to the Auburn defense since opening night, but at no time during the season was that more evident in last week's victory over Arkansas State.

Many of the starters on the defensive side of the football played about 20 percent of the snaps last Saturday. That gave plenty of playing time to the reserves in Auburn's 27-0 victory over Arkansas State.

"I think Patrick Trahan showed up a good bit and he made a lot of plays," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says about the redshirt freshman linebacker.

"Of course, Jerraud Powers as a redshirt freshman was our player of the game," Muschamp points out. "He played well as he has most of the season.

"Aairon (safety Aairon Savage) played pretty good as a freshman there. Sen'Derrick (defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks) and Jermarcus Ricks did some good things inside.

"Alonzo Horton came along," Muschamp adds. "We moved him back to end and he feels a little more comfortable there, I think. He did a good job for us--just a lot of bright spots coming across there.

"Merrill Johnson is playing good for us at the will (weakside linebacker) right now," Muschamp says. "Tray Blackmon had another productive game. All of those guys are young guys who are going to be good players there."

With junior starting safety Eric Brock questionable for Saturday's game vs. Georgia with an ankle sprain, sophomore Lorenzo Ferguson could be a starter. With Brock going down at the start of the Arkansas State game, Ferguson saw plenty of playing time last week.

"He did a good job," Muschamp says. "Lorenzo is a good athlete. (Not playing) has nothing to do with athleticism. He has just been a guy who has been injured and banged up. He missed a lot of camp. He is a guy who has got to stay healthy, but he played well Saturday."

Despite Georgia's 6-4 record, Muschamp, a former Bulldog safety, says he expects Saturday's SEC game vs. the Bulldogs to be a serious challenge for the 9-1 Tigers.

"They are very talented," Muschamp says of the Bulldogs. "They are just struggling with a young quarterback now. A lot teams go through this, but I know they have good coaches. I know they will be well-prepared and I know we will get their best shot on Saturday."

Muschamp says a key for success on Saturday will be for his defense to force mistakes by Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Auburn coach says the true freshman is a major talent. "He can zip it, he has touch," Muschamp says. "He just needs to be more consistent. Turnovers have really hurt him. They hurt him vs. Florida and against Kentucky and hopefully we can continue that trend."

Auburn and Georgia fans are wondering, too. They will find out Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium as the Tigers and Bulldogs meet for the 110th time in a football game. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. and the game will be televised regionally by Lincoln Financial Sports.


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