Coleman: SEC Defensive Lineman Of The Week

Antonio Coleman, a sophomore defensive end from Williamson High School, is playing as well as anybody on the Auburn team right now.

Auburn, Ala.--Sophomore defensive end Antonio Coleman has been named the Southeastern Conference Defensive Lineman of the Week following his performance in Auburn's 17-3 victory over Ole Miss.

"He's worked hard from day one of doing everything we've asked him to do," says position coach Terry Price. "Gain weight, get stronger, get bigger, improve his technique and he's really starting to put it all together and play well right now."

Coleman had four tackles, three for a loss and two sacks as the Auburn defense held the Rebels out of the end zone. Price adds that Coleman's attitude toward playing the game is part of the equation of success.

"He loves it," Price explains. "The kid enjoys playing the game. He's a young, energetic young man. He practices hard and he plays on Saturday. He enjoys putting the pads on and hitting folks. That's what he likes to do."

Not only did he have the sacks on Seth Adams, but Coleman also pressured Brent Schaeffer into throwing an interception in the fourth quarter that ended the Rebels' best chance at putting the ball in the end zone at a time where a TD could have tied the game in the fourth quarter.

Coleman also blew up an attempted reverse by Dexter McCluster.

"I've done that the past three weeks," Coleman says of the reverse. "The first one at Arkansas, Darren McFadden, I made the tackle on him. Against LSU last week Matt Flynn threw me a block, but I played it well. I just have a nose for the ball."

Coleman was admittedly frustrated early in the game against the Rebels and drew an offsetting personal foul with Ole Miss tackle Michael Oher. However, Coleman isn't a player opposing teams need to get fired up.

"Michael Oher is a great tackle," Coleman says. "He got me a little shook up, but I came and talked to Coach (Will) Muschamp and talked to Coach Yox (Kevin Yoxall). They calmed me down.

"They got me on that call there," he adds of the personal foul. "Actually I was walking back to the huddle. Oher got bumped. I just tapped him and he fell down. They got me on that one. Watch it on film. I just laughed it off. I came to the sidelines and the coaches saw it. I came in at halftime and they told me to shake it off, just play between the whistles and let's see who wins the game.

"I like to hit them between the whistles," Coleman continues. "That's what I went out there and did in the second half. They were hitting after the play, blocking in the back and talking trash the whole game.

"He (Oher) didn't even want to look me eye to eye after the game. He just walked away. I went up to him to shake his hand and tell him ‘good game.' I'm a good player, so I went up to him and shook his hand and he just walked off. There wasn't any love lost. We won the game."

Despite being listed as a backup, Coleman had been playing 20-plus snaps per game early in the season. When Quentin Groves dislocated three toes against Florida, it meant that Coleman was going to take on somewhat of a larger role on the defense, and he hasn't disappointed. Groves has come back and played in the last two games, but Coleman's production has continued to be among the leaders on the AU defense.

Coleman has nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage in the last four weeks and leads the team in that category for the season with 12.5. He also has a team-leading six sacks, including three in the last three weeks.

The Tigers are 6-3 after a dreadful start and won't have an off week until Nov. 17, but Coleman says he's still as fresh as possible this late in the season.

"After the Arkansas game we took two days off," he explains. "Sunday is really an off day for the people who play. We stretch and do a couple of turnover drills. I don't care if it's 30 weeks. I'm ready to play every week. I love football and that's what I like to do."

The Tigers entertain Tennessee Tech for Homecoming on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

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