|photo courtesy of the official Auburn Athletics website|
For one to look ahead, they must understand their past.
Auburn's Gus Malzahn surely must know this old axiom, if he is to continue his push for the Auburn football program to compete for championships. That is his stated goal, and what he told us that Auburn expects. To "compete for championships."
We have already looked at the DB's so now we will turn our attention to the Defensive Line.
Coached by Rodney Garner a former Auburn player, and a top recruiter, this unit lost one of it's starters preseason, and was hit by the injury bug throughout season.
In 2013 Auburn's scoring defense was ranked 47th nationally, this past season it dropped dramatically the last 5 games to 63rd nationally. This happens when your opponents each score over 30 points in that 5 game stretch.
The Tigers defense went from 31st nationally to tied for 94th in sacks. Also, Auburn was ranked 23rd in tackles for loss in 2013 but fell to 42nd this season.
For the defensive line to turn things around, and perform at a higher level, two things must happen.
One, A commitment must be made by the players to get stronger, and faster. That comes with dedication in the off season.
Two, schematically changes must be made. The hiring of Will Muschamp as DC has insured that will happen.
Multiple formations along the front, with a strong rotation of players to keep them fresh should give Auburn an advantage when facing the better offensive lines in our league.
Our returning linemen are listed below with this past season's class recognition.
Montravius Adams, JR
Gimel President, SO
Keymiya Harrell, JR
Carl Lawson, SO
Raashed Kennion, FR
Greg Hall, SO
Alec Brown, RS FR
Andrew Williams, FR
DaVonte Lambert, JR
Justin Thornton, FR
Devaroe Lawrence, SO
Dontavius Russell, FR
Aaron Garrison, RS FR
Elijah Daniel, SO
Brian Walsh, JR
An up field push, and a consistent pass rush without the need for blitzing is the goal here. Yes, blitzing is required at times, although it shouldn't be the only way to get sacks and TFLs.
As you can see, there is a great mix of youth and experience returning. My hope, and yours as well I'm sure, is that these young men have much better success in what will be the 3rd different scheme for this season's Junior class.