Auburn's Carl Lawson applies the pressure on Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn said Auburn probably hit the opposing quarterback on Saturday more than anytime during the season.
Welcome back, Carl Lawson.
The Auburn defensive end made a big impact, the Tigers said, in his return after missing six straight games with a hip injury. The stats say he made one tackle. But the stats don't show the energy he brings to the team.
"I think everybody saw that," said defensive back Blake Countess. "I definitely felt it. Also on the sideline he's a big energy guy for our defense. He's bringing everybody up on the sidelines. It was definitely a big difference having him today."
"Doesn't matter," Lawson said, "We didn't win the game."
Ole Miss beat Auburn 27-19. Lawson said he was just glad to be back.
"I was very honored and very blessed that God allowed me to come out and play a full game," he said. "It meant the world to me get my first start in Jordan-Hare just to be on that grass and just to be with my teammates. I'm very blessed to be an Auburn Tiger.
"I love just being around those guys. That's my family." He apologized to "the Auburn family" for not being able to contribute when he was hurt.
"My first start in Jordan-Hare was very special to me. I'm sorry to Auburn we didn't finish out the game, but we will bounce back."
Lawson said he needed to get better, that he needs to be in better shape after being limited the last seven weeks, that he needed to work on his hands, footwork and technique.
He said he may have had "a little phobia" about his injury.
"I didn't play as fast because maybe I was thinking about my hip a little bit. I just need to get better each day," he said.
He still played quite a bit.
"I love Auburn to the core and I'll go out and do whatever I can do for Auburn," Lawson said. "It was just a blessing to be out there. The amount of snaps they gave me means a lot to me."
His teammates and coaches said he still brought plenty to the game.
"He definitely is a difference maker," Malzahn said "I think everyone can see that he gives us a little different edge. He's a disrupter and he disrupted a lot of things that put a little pressure in their backfield. He even got to him some and hit their quarterback."
"Having Carl back," said linebackers coach Lance Thompson, "is really big for the team, not just in terms of him being on the field, but his presence, his leadership style, the way he affects other people."
Lawson said he's learned from the hip injury as well as the knee injury that cost him the 2014 season.
"When I got hurt the second time, and college football players around the world need to understand this, football is not your complete identity," he said. "I still put the same amount of effort into football, but there are other things in life. It made me understand this is not my full identity. I learned from my second injury."
And he said Auburn will play on.
"This is a pivotal point of the season," Lawson said. "We're going to bounce back because this is Auburn. That's what we do. The media is going to go out and probably say some bad stuff about Auburn, but I just want everybody to know, the Auburn faithful, that we will bounce back."
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The game story
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine