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Auburn defense's 'relentless effort' wins praise
Auburn's Darrell Williams jumps for joy with teammates Nick Ruffin, left, Josh Holsey, center, as Tigers beat LSU
Sept. 26, 2016

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. Kevin Steele had to wonder after the first few plays didn't go as planned last Saturday.

"I was like, ‘Wow. We need to go back over to the practice fields for a few minutes and take a break."

It turned out no break was needed for Auburn or its defensive coordinator. Auburn's defense regrouped in short order, pressured things throughout and continued its season-long solid play in helping the Tigers beat LSU 18-13.

"I think everything settled down. We tackled very well, we were very physical… A lot of relentless effort on that field," Steele said.

The Tigers settled down with seven quarterback hurries and four sacks on LSU's 31 called pass plays. "Affecting the quarterback is a huge number," Steele said. So his play-calling pressed the issue.

"Players enjoy that. They do," he said.

Carl Lawson had two of the sacks, including one late in the game that Steele said was a big factor in keeping LSU from scoring in the final frantic seconds. Linebacker Darrell Williams was also impressed.

"He's just one of those great players. People talk about the numbers and how he hasn't been producing, but big-time players step up in big-time games. That's pretty much what it was," Williams said.

The stat sheet agreed.

"Those guys take a lot of pride in that and they like the finished result where there is a stat attached to it," Steele said. "As coaches, we just want to see them do their job. It's nice to see guys recognized for their efforts."

And so Steele recognized the efforts of the defensive line Sunday night while talking about Lawson, Dontavius Russell, Montravius Adams and Marlon Davidson.

"They affected the line of scrimmage on most every snap. That was a good core group in there," Steele said.

It was a different game than most. LSU doesn't spread the field. It relies on an old-school line-'em-up-and-run offense. Kevin Steele relied on a Kevin Steele analogy to explain it.

"We were playing with 13 men in a phone booth and they're all swinging," he said. "It was a physical game, so you need to make sure when it's that kind of game you need to refresh those guys inside."

Auburn's depth helped. The end result was the first SEC win.

"Obviously, they have been making progress in that through the first three games, but the success had not really been on the scoreboard," Steele said. "We tell them you can’t worry about the scoreboard, just do that every day and look at the scoreboard at the end of the game after you’ve played each play as its own play. We are all human at some point in time you want to see the results of your labor and I think they have seen some of that."

Now, Auburn will prepare for Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference for a 2:30 p.m. Saturday game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"We are," Steele said, "going to go to work the same way we do every week."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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