By Charles Goldberg
NEW ORLEANS — Deshaun Davis grew up 150 from here, is familiar with New Orleans and the Sugar Bowl and says he's excited to play in the Superdome in just a few days.
He's already been schooling his Auburn teammates on the ins and outs of the big city.
"I'm the tour guide," Davis says.
Davis is more than that. He's a member of an Auburn linebacker corps that started the season with a cast of new characters that quickly evolved into a solid unit. Davis and the linebackers are one of the reasons Auburn won games and earned a berth in Monday's Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma.
Davis, who saw limited action last season and was redshirted the year before that, made the most of his chances when given an opportunity this year. He's fourth on the team with 55 tackles.
And now a tour guide.
"They all know about Bourbon Street. We got a little slideshow of it when we first got here, so we’re all prepared," Davis said.
Davis said his guided tour of New Orleans would take some time. "I got to show you a few places."
That includes the Superdome. Davis said he attended an Alabama-Oklahoma Sugar Bowl game. And New Orleans Saints games in the Dome as well.
"So it's surreal for me to be on that field," Davis said. "It's an NFL field. A lot of the guys, we talked about it all week, we have a dream to play in the NFL and just getting that opportunity to play on an NFL field this early" is special.
Auburn had a long way to go to get to the Superdome after the Tigers lost two of their first three games. But here Auburn is, at 8-4, against 10-2 Oklahoma.
"We hit a big winning streak in the middle part of the year, and I feel like that's key to why we're here now," Davis said. "We earned this and it showed our team that we can handle adversity. We started out 1-2, everyone stayed on task; we didn't point any fingers, we just knew we had to go out and fight. It showed our team what we were made of."
Auburn's defense improved in almost every statistical category this season, and is now ranked 21st in total defense.
"For years, it's always been about Auburn scoring 30 or 40 points but giving up 31 or 41 points and still losing. We came in this year with a standard to hold teams to 18 points. We held up to that," Davis said.
'We flipped the switch'
Auburn defender Deshaun Davis says the Sugar Bowl is important for this season...and for next year, too. Video pic.twitter.com/cD8LJfb9DV
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) December 29, 2016
Auburn practiced on campus before the Christmas break. Davis said Auburn arrived in New Orleans ready to go.
"We flipped the switch. Our coach did a great job of getting us ready when we were on campus," he said.
Davis said a win would cap off the 2016 season and send the Tigers in the right direction for 2017.
"It's really important, especially going into next year. We got a lot of guys coming back, pretty much the same team, wanting to get better. You don’t want to have that bad taste in your mouth all offseason. We're trying to get that W and get a lot of momentum going into next year."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine