AUBURN, Ala. — Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson are no longer starring on Auburn’s defensive line, but the duo’s impact is inspiring current players this spring.
“Those guys, it was just real good to have those type of people around,” junior defensive tackle Dontavius Russell said. “When Mon and Carl were here they were just always really good examples in situations of what to do, not only physically as far as how to do certain techniques, but like just mentally how to think and how to go towards games and stuff like that. Those are two guys that will be missed, but you have to move forward.”
Standards are perhaps even higher in Adams’ and Lawson’s absence. Defensive line coach Rodney Garner is still searching for a group of 10 players he feels will help Auburn match the dominance it exerted in 2016.
The line has shifted a bit, with Byron Cowart moving inside and linebacker Tre’ Threat making a switch to Buck, but the group is focused and aware that progress is what matters.
Still, there are good signs everywhere. The first-team defense had several three-and-outs and gave up only one touchdown through Auburn’s first two scrimmages, pleasing head coach Gus Malzahn overall.
“I feel like with any defensive line, it’s always going to be a work in progress as far as going towards what you want to be towards the season,” Russell said. “We’re just working towards getting better and better. You can’t expect to be as good as you can be the first couple of times you practice.”
Players on the defensive line have kept Adams and Lawson in mind this offseason, working to make strides in the weight room and also to develop more depth and leadership individually.
“There isn’t one thing. There’s really not one thing that stood out, other than that I like the way both sides are competing,” Malzahn said. “That’s really what’s standing out to me. Not one side is giving in to the other, not one side didn’t have any energy today. They both brought great energy. They both were very competitive. They’re starting to compete. It’s good, this late in spring, that you have that.”
The next step is Auburn’s A-Day game next weekend, which is motivating players who have been competing against each other day in and day out.
“It’s like a payoff because you’re spending all this time, like you’re hitting each other you get tired of hitting your own teammates so you get tired of hitting each other and eventually you get to at least get to play in front of somebody,” Russell said. “We’re still hitting each other, but you’re playing in front of a real crowd, a real live game situation. There’s no coaches on the field, well, except for coach Malzahn, but other than that, it’s just a real situation. It’s more fun because you can’t script that situation and what’s going to happen. It’s just fun.”