By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Tre' Williams is a leader on the defense, but he welcomes all who want to step up, senior and rookie alike.
"It can be anybody. It could be Marlon Davidson, who is a freshman who plays really well. It can go to Carl Lawson, who is a veteran that everyone looks up to him. It really doesn't matter. We are all one. We all see ourselves as equal."
And so it goes that Williams and Auburn's defense has won praise early in the season, and will be counted on again when the Tigers play LSU at 5 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium on ESPN.
Williams figures Auburn will be ready because "it's based on our leadership to pick up and get younger guys and also the older guys on board."
Auburn's defense has been steady, and been tested, playing No. 5 Clemson and No. 10 Texas A&M. Williams credits new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele for part of that.
"He makes it real simple so we don't even have to think – just play fast," Williams said.
Williams says Steele's Auburn-first approach takes the "pressure off of us. We don't have to worry about how they're going to play, what they're going to do. We just have to worry about what we're going to do. When we watch film, 'what are we going to do against whatever they're going to do?'"
Auburn will pass the quarter pole of the regular season Saturday having played three nationally ranked team in four games. LSU is 2-1. Auburn is 1-2.
"It's a must win — just like every other game is a must win," Williams said. "Every win at home feels good. We have great fans, and they support us win, lose or draw. We have to do it for them."
Auburn's first job Saturday will be to try to slow running back Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 228 yards against the Tigers last season. He, like Auburn's defense the first few weeks, has won praise — from an Auburn team that tried to tackle him.
Coach Gus Malzahn said Fournette had a "Heisman-type" performance in that game. And Auburn defenders have shown respect.
"I think each individual guy on the defensive side wants to redeem themselves," Malzahn said. "They've got nine of their guys back on offense so that will be a big part of the game: stopping the run. They're going to run the football. A big part of the game that will be a key to the outcome."
Now, Auburn looks for a complete game, Williams says, and that means standing with the Tigers' offense.
"All we can do is support them," Williams said. "We are going to support them whether they play good or not, because we are all the Auburn Tigers. We aren't the Auburn defense and Auburn offense. We are going to support them."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine