Auburn defensive end Carl Lawson played in his first game Saturday since the season opener against Louisville where he sustained a hip injury. He was able to get through the game without any injury complications.
The only problem? Fatigue.
“He (Lawson) just said I’m a little out of shape,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Tuesday. “He’ll get in better shape as he goes, but I think that really helped him confidence wise. He’s healthy and ready to go.”
Lawson recorded just one tackle in last Saturday’s 27-19 loss against Ole Miss, but the sophomore picked up three quarterback hurries. The Tigers missed Lawson’s ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks. In the SEC, only Arkansas (7) has fewer sacks than Auburn (12) this season.
Lawson did not fill the stat sheet Saturday, but he still impacted the game. He forced Ole Miss to double team him at times during the game, which opened up lanes for the other Auburn defenders to make plays.
“From an offensive standpoint you got to be aware of him,” Malzahn said on his radio show Monday. “He’s definitely a game-changer.”
Lawson’s impact on the team was still evident from the sideline even when he was injured. He constantly encouraged teammates and engaged in sideline huddles. Now that he is back on the field, the Tigers are re-energized.
“When he (Lawson) talks our guys listen to him,” Malzahn said. “He’s raised that level and special players have that ability.”