By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Raise your hand if you're an Auburn defensive lineman who has knocked down a pass or blocked a field goal this season.
We see you Montravius Adams, Marlon Davidson, Dontavius Russell, Maurice Swain and Derrick Brown.
Those five linemen have swatted away passes at the line of scrimmage and have been credited with 10 pass breakups. Adams and Swain have blocked field goal attempts, too.
Hey, why not, with "the talent level in which we have up front — they're active, athletic guys," says defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
Russell and Adams really got into the act in last Saturday's 55-0 win over Alabama A&M. Russell batted a ball. Adams intercepted it.
"I'm always trying to help my teammates," Russell said, "and for me to get a batted ball at the line and get him the opportunity to get an interception on his senior night is something he’ll be able to remember forever. I'm just glad I was able to help him."
That was sort of like when Adams and Carl Lawson teamed up earlier in the season, when Lawson forced a fumble and Adams scooped it up and scored.
Auburn's defensive line knocks down passes, but does a lot of its work pressuring quarterbacks. Defensive linemen have 52 quarterback hurries on the stat sheet, including a team-best 23 by Lawson. Don't forget the 36 tackles for a loss from the line.
"Obviously, we're working for sacks. But more importantly, we're working to affect the quarterback, and one of the ways to affect the quarterback is to get your hands up and bat balls," Steele said.
The Tigers will be looking to keep that up when they visit Alabama in 2:30 p.m. game Saturday.
Auburn's defense, overall, has 82 quarterback hurries. Auburn's opponents have 32. Auburn has broken up 65 passes as a team. Opponents have broken up 26.
Davidson has broken up the most passes among defensive lineman with three. Adams has two – and two blocked field goals. Swain got in the act in last Saturday with a blocked field goal of his own.
"Moving on for this week," Steele said, "it's like it's always been. We've got to practice with a great focus, and a physicality, a toughness. The fundamentals of the game can't elude us."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine