Defensive Line Playing With Passion

Auburn defensive line coach Mike Pelton talks about the play of his group against LSU, playing with passion, using Corey Lemonier in a new role, and more.

Auburn, Ala.—One of the question marks the first three weeks of the 2012 for the Auburn defense was the play of the defensive line group. While juniors Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford had made plays in the backfield, the consistency from the front four wasn't there for the Tigers, especially against the run.

Facing a powerful LSU team last Saturday, Auburn's defensive line stepped to the forefront and contributed to holding the Tigers to just 12 points and nearly 100 yards below their average on the ground. While the Auburn defense is far from where it needs to be, coach Mike Pelton said the line has taken some steps forward through the first month of the season.

"They really competed and it was exciting to see and we've just got to build on that," Pelton said. "By no means are we satisfied with a two-point loss. Doesn't matter if it's two or 50, it's still a loss. We've got to learn how to pull that game out."

Learning more and more about what coach Brian VanGorder is looking for out of his defense, Pelton said one of the things that changed for the defensive line last Saturday night was the energy they brought to the game.

"They are getting a better understanding of what's required and they're playing with passion," Pelton said "They played last Saturday like the game meant something to them, and we were excited to see that. We've been preaching that and that's what's expected here.

"Playing with passion at Auburn is not something that just started, it's something that's required here at Auburn," he added. "It's been here when I was here, it's been here before I was here and it's going to be here when I'm gone. That's just the Auburn way. And I thought our guys played Auburn football but we just didn't finish the game, and Auburn football finishes games."

One of the things that Pelton and the Tigers are hoping will continue to move the defense forward is adding new wrinkles each and every week. Against LSU, that meant using Lemonier in a variety of different ways as a stand-up rusher picking different spots to attack. Pelton said it's something they are going to continue to play with to help the defense have more weapons at its disposal during a game.

"Corey's a very, very cerebral player," Pelton said. "You can do a lot with him. He understands the game and you can move him places and he understand the game. He's one of them guys that you'll see at different spots because he can handle that. You can't do that with everybody but with him, you can move him different places and he responds. He's a very, very intelligent football player.

"The thing about it is it helps because it gives you more bullets in your gun," he added. "Right now, with the type of defense we're playing, we need those things to go against some of the teams that have really got great offense. We need to give them different looks. With those guys being as smart as they are and we can move them around, we can still do our job."

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