Carl Lawson's return boosts the spirits of Auburn's defense
By Charles Goldberg
COLLEGE STATION, Texas ― Kyler Murray passed for more than 100 yards, rushed for more than 100 yards and scored touchdowns by air and land last week.
Auburn took notice.
The Texas A&M quarterback became only the second SEC quarterback to do all those things in his first college start. The first to do it? Cam Newton.
Newton's old school will try to slow down Murray and the Aggies in Saturday night's 6:30 game at Kyle Field that will be shown on the SEC Network.
"You can't hem up in a phone booth. This guy is as quick as a cat," said Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. "He's just a winner. He's got arm talent. He can run. He's got a great competitive disposition about himself."
Murray has never lost as a starting quarterback, now 1-0 at Texas A&M after beating South Carolina after winning three state high school titles in Texas. In this season of change, Auburn, too, will go with a quarterback who wasn't the starter when the season began.
Sean White will get his sixth start after showing his toughness by playing on a sore knee in last week's loss to Ole Miss. He's practiced this week and figures to be ready to go.
"He showed a lot of guts and a lot of toughness," said coach Gus Malzahn, "because we really were prepared for him not to play, and we got there in pre-game and he was very determined: 'I'm ready to go. I can do it.'"
Murray passed for 223 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 156 yards and a TD last week. White, on one good knee, passed for 258 yards and a touchdown, and had minus-6 yards rushing.
The elusive Murray will be a challenge, but Muschamp said his defense showed life in the Ole Miss game despite giving up a lot of yards.
"That's really the frustrating part is we've had some opportunities," he said.
But Auburn was energized with the return of defender Carl Lawson who had missed the previous six games with a hip injury. He played more than half the defensive snaps.
"He came through it great," Malzahn said. "He just said ‘I’m a little out of shape.’ So, he'll get in better shape as he goes, but I think that really helped him confidence wise and he's healthy and ready to go."
Muschamp said Lawson's mere presence made a difference.
"He's a leader. He's a guy who rallies the troops. He gets them going. He knows when it's right. He puts peer pressure on his teammates to do it the right way. All the things you want in a leader and a good player, he's got them."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine