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Prior to this season, the Auburn defense had allowed an average of 182.7 yards rushing per game from 2011-2013. During that 39-game run, Auburn allowed the opponent to rush for over 200-yards, 18 times. Ellis Johnson made run-defense a high priority, when he arrived at Auburn and we are beginning to see the results. During the 2012 season Auburn finished at No. 100 in run-defense. The Tigers improved to No. 63 last season under Ellis Johnson and are currently No. 11 after 3 games into the 2014 season. Tackling has improved dramatically and the players appear far more comfortable in year #2 under Ellis Johnson.

The Play...

KSU-FordTFL_zpsb93c8f86.jpg

On this play Kansas State has the ball at their own 46-yard line, facing a 2nd & 2. The Wildcats will attempt to run a counter-trey to the boundary side of the field. Auburn has 7 men in the box to defend what is likely going to be a run play.

The key to defending this play is LaDarius Owens. He has backside responsibility to defend any cut backs by the RB and the quarterback, should he play-action and bootleg. When the KSU running back makes his cutback, Owens is in position to force the play deep and wide. This allows Johnathan Ford and Kris Frost time and space to run the play down.

Rudy Ford closes and makes the tackle on the RB for a loss, forcing a passing situation on 3rd down. Though the DL only accounted for 9 tackles against the Wildcats, the numbers are misleading, when judging the performance of the Auburn DL. In this case, Owens is not credited for a tackle on this play but he was the primary reason why the play resulted in a loss.

Through 3 games the Auburn defense is holding their opponent to 59 percent below their rushing average. You cannot establish that kind of production without the DL playing well.

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