Carl Lawson made an instant impact in Auburn's defensive line last week
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin heaped praise on Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson on Wednesday.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn couldn't argue.
"With Carl back, I really believe you'll see improvement," Malzahn said of his team during the same SEC teleconference.
Auburn happens to be playing Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, and that's why the topic quickly turned to Lawson, who returned to the Tigers' lineup last Saturday after missing six games with a hip injury. Even Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, who faced Lawson last Saturday, said the return of the defensive end elevated Auburn's defensive line to the second best he faced this season.
Sumlin called Lawson "a difference-maker."
"He's one of the elite players in this league," Sumlin said. "He brings another level of energy."
Lawson was rounding back into shape on the fly against Ole Miss. "I think he's progressed well," Malzahn said. "He told me after the game he's out of shape, but his body feels good."
Sumlin also said Auburn is better with the re-emergence of Lawson and the development of quarterback Sean White, saying their play has to give the Tigers "confidence in those two positions."
The defense is looking for that one more stop.
"We played with a little bit more spark the other day. I'm excited about the last four games and see how we can progress," Malzahn said.
White was a last-minute addition to the starting lineup against Ole Miss after dealing with a sore knee leading up to the game. Leading running back Peyton Barber was limited because of an injury as well. Malzahn said they both practiced Tuesday, and, as far as their status goes, "we'll see as we get going through the week."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine