AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn’s offensive and defensive lines were unstoppable in the Tigers’ 56-3 blowout of Arkansas on Saturday night.
Yet the toughest part of the battle up front for the Hogs wasn’t keeping a monstrous defensive front from reaching their quarterback or preventing the incessant steamrolling up front. The most difficult challenge was fighting off the endless supply of talent the Tigers kept sending into the lineup.
Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele knew he’d have depth this season, but his options have increased throughout the season.
“We’ve always said that we had a group of about eight to nine, when we’re fully, that we feel comfortable in playing,” Steele said. “And there’s probably six to seven of those guys that we feel comfortable playing at any point and time in the game.”
After a productive trip to Starkville, Auburn’s second defensive line showed up ready to play again. Three members of the Tiger’s second defensive line unit — senior Devaroe Lawrence, sophomore Andrew Williams and sophomore Jeff Holland — accounted for three of Auburn’s four sacks in the win over the Razorbacks and Byron Cowart added a tackle for loss.
To Steele, however, the “backup group” really isn’t second string.
“Jeff Holland is really considered a starter to us with Marlon (Davidson) and 55 (Carl Lawson), 1 (Montravius Adams) and 95 (Dontavius Russell). He’s considered a starter because when we go rabbits on third down he goes in and Dontavius comes out. He doesn’t like to come out, but he comes out. And then Adams stays in with Carl. So it’s a pretty good group of guys to keep them fresh.”
The depth has started to develop on the offensive side of the ball, too.
Center Xavier Dampeer suffered an injury in the LSU game and offensive tackle Darius James took over at left tackle, moving Austin Golson to center.
Dampeer didn’t exactly lost his spot, though. He simply got moved around in the rotation.
“Really the way I look at it is we’ve got six starters,” Malzahn said. “That’s the way I look at it. Obviously we played very well the other night, but we’ve got six guys we feel great about. That’s kind of our approach.”