Auburn's defensive line is arguably its most talented unit. Defensive ends Corey Lemonier and Dee Ford are two of the most athletic and explosive ends in the SEC. Both are a tad undersized at under 250 pounds, but they are very strong and do an excellent job of playing the pass with their speed and the rush with leverage and quickness. The inside guys, Jeffery Whitaker and Angelo Blackson, are also very talented. Both are solid run-stuffers with excellent size and the athleticism to pursue. Blackson is the more explosive of the two and has six tackles for a loss this season despite a high number of double teams, but Whitaker is also very tough to move in the run game. Behind those two are a couple of other defensive linemen who have shown promise. Gabe Wright and Kenneth Carter are the top reserves on the inside, and both have shown an ability to make plays this season. Wright has three tackles for a loss this season, and Carter is pitching in two tackles per game. Defensive end Nosa Eguae is another player to keep an eye on as he has started to come on of late.
The Tiger linebackers are undersized but active. Senior Darren Bates is the most active with an average of almost 10 tackles per game, and does an excellent job of playing sideline to sideline. Fellow senior Jonathan Evans has been the least active of the linebackers, but he has also had more responsibility in coverage. Jake Holland has been a solid defender for the Tigers this season with almost seven tackles per game, and is their best downhill player. Holland does and excellent job fitting against the run in a physical way, and seems to always be near the football. One linebacker that has emerged in recent weeks is freshman Cassanova McKinzy. McKinzy has excellent size at 6-foot-3 240 pounds, and has 16 tackles in his last three games.
This group, for the second straight year, has really struggled for the Tigers. A lot of the struggles this season have been in coverage. The Auburn secondary is allowing almost 230 yards passing per game and they have allowed 13 touchdowns through the air compared to only one interception. That one interception came from linebacker Darren Bates. While there have been some problems against the pass, the Auburn secondary is fast and talented. Cornerbacks Jonathon Mincy, Joshua Holsey, T'Sharvan Bell, Chris Davis, and Jonathan Jones all see a number of snaps for the Tigers, and all are guys who can really run. Holsey and Jones are freshman, and Mincy is only a sophomore, so youth is a big issue there. At safety, Demetruce McNeal and Jermaine Whitehead have been two of the busiest safeties in the SEC this season. The two are combining for over 17 tackles per game, and both do an excellent job of bringing down ball carriers in space.
• First Down - The Tigers are a base team on first down that likes to play a lot of cover two. On first down, they rarely go to man coverage, but if they do, it is with two high safeties and man coverage underneath.
• Second down - There is distance on second down in which Auburn has a blitz tendency. On second and short and medium, it is almost exactly 50/50 blitz and base. On second and long, the Tigers blitz 53 percent of the time.
• Third down and long (7 or more yards) - This is a strong blitz down for Auburn and especially if the opposing team has longer than 10 yards to go. On any third and long situation, the Tigers bring at least one extra defender 65% of the time. If the distance is 10 yards or longer, they bring the blitz 74% of the time.
• Third down and medium(4 to 7 yards) - This is almost a 50/50 down for the Tigers.
• Third down and short (less than 4 yards) - Again, no tendency to blitz here. If anything, this is a strong base down for the Tigers in which they like to walk their linebackers up into gaps and get a stop.
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