Oct. 23, 2013
Auburn's Kris Frost makes the stop on Johnny Manziel late in the game (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn linebacker Kris Frost can revel in late defensive stands and clutch offensive drives in comeback SEC victories over Mississippi State and Texas A&M, though getting to those dramatic wins can be a bit stressful.
"It's pretty nerve-wracking for everybody, and it's nerve-wracking for us, too," Frost says. "We'd much rather be up, but we do seem to excel when we're placed in situations like that. That doesn't mean we always want to be placed in those positions, but we do well, we always respond well and that's a good sign. It shows us that we have heart and we know how to pull it out, we know how to come out with a win when the game is on the line."
Auburn heads to Saturday's 6:30 p.m. home game against Florida Atlantic with highlight wins in its back pocket. The Tigers beat Texas A&M 45-41 last Saturday by scoring the game-winning TD with 1:19 left, and then sacking Johnny Manziel deep in Auburn territory on the last play of the game. Auburn beat Mississippi State by scoring the game-winning TD with 10 seconds left and by stopping the Bulldogs on their final six series.
It was Dee Ford who sacked Manziel twice in the final 30 seconds, but Frost played a role, too, running down the Heisman Trophy winner on what could have been a big play. Frost said his assignment was to spy on Manziel to help contain him. But a good spy also has an element of mystery.
"Sometimes we don't have a spy, sometimes we do have a spy," Frost said.
Frost made his first college start at middle linebacker in place of Jake Holland, who missed practice time last week because of an injury. Then, it was film time.
"We saw who did what and the mistakes that occurred, but it's stuff we can all learn off of, collectively as a unit, and stuff I know I can learn off of," Frost said. "I felt very comfortable, the most comfortable I felt playing. I think that comes with starting and being the first up there because it gets all the jitters out, especially in a big game."
But, no, Frost isn't campaigning for a change.
"Jake is our starter, and basically it's all about me doing all I can to be the best I can be for this team right now. Right now, that's not really important" who starts.
"It's all about winning games and doing all I can to contribute to the team."
Winning games for Auburn is about playing its best when it matters the most. The Tigers have allowed fewer points in the fourth quarter than any other, and have beaten their first seven opponents by a combined 57-23 there.
Most everybody credits Auburn's willingness to rotate players early so they'll be fresh at the end.
"We have a great rotation on the defensive line as well as the linebackers and DBs," Frost said. "Our coaches do a great job of rotating us and keeping us fresh constantly, and it does help.
"It also helps in rotating us when he just wants to get his point across about a certain play or what they're doing to us."
Trying to keep up with the mercurial Manziel was a challenge. Five of Auburn's top six tacklers were defensive backs. Falling in at No. 3 was linebacker Frost, who says the additional playing time should help him overcome mistakes.
"I definitely think it's an experience thing. Fixing it is basically what's happening now — getting more reps in the games and practicing and the amount of reps the second team gets in practice is great for all of us," Frost said. "I feel like the more in-game experience and more I get out there and take charge of the defense like I did this past weekend, the more experience I'll grab and the better I'll be at it."
Video: Kris Frost checks in this week on the Tigers:
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine