Aug. 16, 2014
It's work time for Auburn and Gabe Wright
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive lineman Gabe Wright isn't offended when coaches keep demanding a better pass rush.
He sees it as motivation.
"It should light a fire under you. If it had to do with anything — stopping the run, pass-rush, affecting the quarterback, anything — that should drive you. And that's one of those things that should give you an extra push," Wright says. "It's definitely not something that makes me think negatively of the coaches. It's true. We do need to affect the quarterback, especially in this league, where there are plenty of great quarterbacks. So affecting the quarterback will only help our back seven, and our back seven will help us vice-versa."
Gabe Wright. Senior. Spokesman at SEC Media Days.
Defensive tackle. Defensive end.
Wright figures he'll play both positions this season, not one this week and one next week, but in the same game. He's OK with that.
Auburn has a deep defensive line, but the Tigers will miss sack-leader Dee Ford, who was a first-round draft choice; Carl Lawson, who is out following knee surgery; and Nosa Eguae, who is an NFL camp.
Wright says Auburn still has bunch of young guys and veterans who are ready.
"We did lose an edge rusher in Carl, but we are evolving and advancing," Wright said.
Wright named freshman Raashed Kennion, who "has been excelling in the past couple of weeks." And there are Gimel President and DaVonte Lambert. Elijah Daniel, Montravius Adams, Angelo Blackson. LaDarius Owens would be there, but he's dealing with an infection. Wright pretty much likes the whole 10-man rotation, the ones you know and the ones you will.
He also likes occasional off-the-edge rusher and full-time linebacker Cassanova McKinzy.
"He really has a pass-rush trait," Wright says.
Gabe Wright takes us to practice...
"Cass is definitely still the Mike linebacker, and he been doing a good job of it. He's been getting after guys, and that's something we didn't really see too much of last year. It may have been because he wasn't the Mike, but he's the Mike now. He's really been setting the tone well."
Of Daniel, Wright says, "He played inside on the dime package last year and I think he had four or five sacks doing it. This year, he's really looking at a bigger role, being a starter or whatever the case may be.
"If Elijah gets more hype I think that would be dangerous. Elijah has all the enthusiasm in the world. Typically before practice, guys might not be as amped up, Elijah is usually the most amped-up guy.
"That's what I mean by being a starter, being able to keep your composure. That's something he's just going to have to learn with experience. Luckily, he has five seniors to look at for that."
Of Kennion, Wright says he likes his "speed and size. Honestly, I don't know the last time we had a 6-5 lanky speed defensive end. Dee Ford was a little under 6-2, Carl's an even 6-2 guy. You know, he sets the tone with his speed rush. The bigger he gets, the more experience he gains, he'll learn how to use more power and stuff."
"I can't say he's the most freakish athlete because that may be me. Mon is definitely on the way," Wright said. "He's definitely one of those top-tier guys. He's another guy who has all the high energy all the time. I feel like this season he can really put it together.
"I can tell he's really grasped not taking coaching personal. It's easy for me to really praise him."
The young guys, Wright said, are growing up.
"I could tell last year it was only a matter of time. Guys may get down about playing time and such. I put all the pressure on myself as a freshman, but things didn't really start to tick the way I would like them until my third year. You just kind of have to go with the coaching and learn how to take that in and learn how to use it on Saturday."
Gabe Wright is ready.
"Getting into next week, when school starts and we get into the regularly scheduled program, that's definitely going to put guys more into it. I can tell you, about Tuesday or Wednesday, of game week, when those RVs start rolling in, things get really anxious."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine