AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football rolled over Missouri on Saturday night without one of its senior leaders, linebacker Tre’ Williams.
On Sunday night, Williams explained why he sat out the 51-14 win at Missouri with an aggravated shoulder injury that he called a “minor setback.” He initially suffered the injury in Week 2 against Clemson but played through it against Mercer in Week 3.
“I was pretty banged up ever since Clemson,” Williams said. “I toughened it out against Mercer, and I kind of took a couple of steps back. The coaches made a decision to sit me out against Missouri to keep rehabbing and everything. We’ll see how it goes for this week.”
Despite not playing a single snap against Missouri, Williams is still Auburn’s leading tackler by a considerable margin. Williams has 25 tackles through three games, while senior safety Tray Matthews and junior linebacker Darrell Williams are tied for second with 16 tackles through four games.
Williams said he “feels good” after not playing against Missouri. The No. 13 Tigers play their SEC home opener Saturday night against No. 24 Mississippi State (6 p.m. ET/5 p.m. CT on ESPN).
The senior from Mobile, Ala., said he wasn’t sure if Auburn would’ve hypothetically played him against a better opponent than struggling Missouri.
“It’s really up to them,” Williams said. “They really care about our health. They’re more than coaches. They really want to build us for the future as well so I’m pretty sure they didn’t want to prevent anything serious from happening. It was their call. I’m just glad I’m able to bounce back.”
Williams was replaced in the starting lineup by junior Montavious Atkinson. Junior Richard McBryde, who hasn’t had many opportunities in his first two seasons at Auburn, also picked up key reps in Williams’ absence.
Without its leading tackler, the Auburn first-team defense held Missouri to just one scoring drive and forced a pair of turnovers that quickly led to touchdowns from a resurgent Auburn offense.
“They had one of the best performances,” Williams said. “It can happen to anybody. It doesn’t matter who is displaced from this defense we have depth to where we don’t miss a beat. You saw that Saturday.”