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Auburn linebackers on call for matchup against LSU
Sept. 28, 2014

Auburn's Kris Frost tipped Cody Sokol's pass that Montravius Adams intercepted on the way to a weekend win

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala.  Ellis Johnson says his backup linebackers are ready just in case. …just in case starting linebackers Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost aren't all the way back from the injuries that knocked them out last weekend's win over Louisiana Tech.
The Auburn defensive coordinator said Sunday he'll be comfortable turning to his backups, if necessary, after their solid effort in relief in the 45-17 win over Louisiana Tech. Auburn is preparing for Saturday's 6 p.m. game against LSU with McKinzy and Frost "kind of day-to-day," Johnson said.
Johnson said McKinzy "got kicked in the chin and that caused a little mild concussion. He seemed pretty good today." Johnson said someone fell on his Frost's leg. Sunday, "Frost was moving around a little bit." 
Frost was knocked out on Louisiana Tech's second series during a memorable play. Frost blitzed and tipped a pass that Montravius Adams intercepted to set up Auburn's first score. Johnson said a Louisiana Tech player fell on Frost's leg on Adams' run. McKinzy was hurt early in the third quarter.
Anthony Swain, Tre' Williams, JaViere Mitchell and Khari Harding filled in and apparently did well enough as Auburn's defense continued to grow. The defense is ranked fourth in the SEC and 20th in the nation. Johnson said last Saturday's win was more of the same.
"We played aggressively last year, but I think probably what you see is people a little more sure of what they are doing," he said. "Obviously, confusion causes hesitation and last year we were new in the system. We maybe tried to do too much too early. We had a lot of players that couldn’t pull the trigger. They weren’t really sure of what they were doing. It wasn’t a lack of aggression, I think it was more of a lack of knowledge and being comfortable in the system. There is no question that’s better. That has hopefully contributed to a lot faster play, but we still need to get a little bit cleaner mentally."
But the injuries? "We've got a bunch of them. Another one has a bruised shin. We've got a bruised bone. Swain has a very mild sprain."
In the end, Johnson said he thinks he'll be fine at linebacker.
"What happens to you is when you work a rotation in practice, and you lose your starters right at the beginning of a game or right before the game, that’s hard on a backup to come in there and perform at the same level, because he didn’t get the same preparation. But I think if they’re out a couple of days. That will help the backups get more repetition and be ready to play."
Playing LSU is a tougher assignment. No. 5 Auburn is 4-0. No. 15 LSU is a step behind at 4-1.
Swain has experience at McKinzy's linebacker spot, and Frost's spot as well. 
"He played both the other night," Johnson said. "He's played both since he’s been here, so he was able to go in and help us."
Johnson said he was also pleased with Harding
"I haven’t been able to get him in the lineup because some of the games we’ve played have been really tough, close games. He shows things when he gets on the field, he’s still got that skill set that some of our guys don’t have. He’s got great mobility, he’s great in coverage. I really think all those of those guys can play."
Johnson said Mitchell "had some really good plays. He ended up taking over the Mike linebacker when Kris was out on the Dime package and graded out 100. Had no errors and made every play he’s supposed to make."
Johnson likes the trend.
"It has been four games in a row, we’re playing physical and playing with great effort and a lot of intensity," he said. "There are still some things that need to be cleaner. We’re making some mistakes that are being practiced during the week. Of course, there is always going to be the unexpected that happens during a game. But these are things we are working on in practice and they seem to have it down, and we still have a few of those in games."

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



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