By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Tre' Williams said he wanted to be a leader. He is, but six games into the season, the Auburn linebacker says he and his teammates are also letting their defense do most of the talking.
"It's all about how you perform," Williams says. "We have a lot of guys who we can look up to, a lot of guys who show us that's how you do this or that's how you do that. We don't have that one person who stands out of everybody. We all build up each other."
Auburn's defense has improved to 29th nationally this season, has allowed only three touchdowns in the last three games, and will be counted on Saturday when Arkansas visits Jordan-Hare Stadium for a 5 p.m. game.
Williams says the turnaround can be attributed to this: "Leadership is great. Leadership is building every week. Our team is getting better not only on Saturday, but we are getting better at practice, watching film and just individually. It's making our team coming together even more."
Williams said Auburn has embraced the philosophy of new defensive coordinator Kevin Steele "because it gets everybody from young to old in the mindset of don't worry about making the mistake. You know what you got to do. He just wants you to play fast and physical."
Auburn has done that, though Arkansas may remember a high-scoring game from last year that was skewed by four overtimes. The Razorbacks beat Auburn 54-46, though the score was a more respectable 24-24 at the end of regulation. Alas, the Tigers have already evened the score with one such SEC opponent from last season when it beat LSU 18-13 in Week 4.
Saturday's task: Slow Arkansas, which is averaging 34.9 points per game behind quarterback Austin Allen, who has an SEC-best 18 touchdown passes.
"We can't get complacent no matter who we playing," Williams said. "If we don’t play the Auburn way, the outcome won’t be in our favor. They continue to put into our minds that we are going to play how Auburn plays. We are going to work on ourselves and not worry about anybody else. It's going to be in our hands."
Auburn returned to the practice field Sunday after getting the weekend off thanks to an open date. "Rested. Mentally and physically," Williams said. "Finally got to see our family, got to relax, eat good, it's always great."
Of course, that didn't stop Williams from tuning in to watch Auburn's next two opponents Saturday night when Arkansas played, and beat, Ole Miss 34-30.
"They requested us to do it to see their tendencies and things like that. It was also a good game," Williams said.
Williams takeaway on Arkansas? "Playing hard in the SEC, so they trying to win like we are."
Arkansas and LSU run a more traditional offense than many in the SEC. That means physical football up front.
"They told us before the season even started we were only going to have only two or three teams that going to be that pound-it team," Williams said. "Once we play LSU we have that foundation down of what we are going to do."
And it's another chance for Tre' Williams to lead by example.
"Ever since I've been here we have been growing and getting better."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine