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Auburn's Cassanova McKinzy, Kris Frost win the day
Nov. 6, 2014

Cassanova McKinzy, left, and Kris Frost came up with big plays for Auburn against Ole Miss

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Cassanova McKinzy says it was around the second game of the season that he and Kris Frost decided it was time to take a stand.

"We felt like the Auburn linebackers weren't getting a lot of recognition. Frost and I are trying to take it upon ourselves to make those linebacker plays that those great guys made when they came through Auburn. I feel like we're doing pretty well at that."

Frost, the linebacker, made the play of the game last Saturday when he forced Laquon Treadwell to fumble as he was crossing the goal line to help save Auburn's 35-31 win over Ole Miss. The linebackers, and everybody else, are now on call for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. game against Texas A&M in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

McKinzy was Auburn's leading tackler last season. This year, he's No. 2. Frost, the SEC defensive player of the week for his performance against Ole Miss, is No. 3.

"We take us being on the field at the same time pretty serious," McKinzy said. "We feel like when we're on the field at the same time we have a great chemistry. When I'm wrong, he makes me right; when he's wrong, I make him right. I feel like that's how it has to be."

McKinzy, who played on the outside last year, said he likes being the middle linebacker this season. "I just love to hear people say, 'you make the calls.' As a middle linebacker you really don't play in a lot of space in this defense. I make a lot of plays inside the box and the plays that I make outside the box is off effort."

McKinzy came to Auburn playing for then-defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder. Now, it's Ellis Johnson. McKinzy said the biggest difference is the "verbiage," because back then, "the play calls are probably like a sentence long."

"With Coach Johnson, you don't have somebody on your back waiting for you to do wrong. He expects you to do right."

Johnson's faith in his linebackers was rewarded when Frost tackled Treadwell and McKinzy fell on the fumble.

"It was just a great effort play, he was fortunate to even get to him," Johnson said. "He was one of the guys blitzing in the A gaps right up over the center, and turned and chased. Stripping the ball was just unbelievable on top of that, he grabbed his arm and got it to come out. 

"Cassanova made a good effort to get to the ball and get on it. Kris has had some really good games."

Coach Gus Malzahn said McKinzy and Frost have "responded well to moving to those positions. I think they are getting more comfortable each game.
"Anytime they have experience, they're going to improve. 

"I would say that we're more consistent at the linebacking position than we were last year."

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



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