“They’ve Tasted Some Success and They Kind of Like It”
Jeff Holland sacks Arkansas quarterback Coe Kelley. (photo: Julie Bennett/al.com)
It’s only natural that a lot of the media focus on Auburn’s blowout victory over Arkansas has been on the offensive rebound after the LSU game. As an Auburn fan, it was a welcomed sight. However, just as pleasing to watch was the continuation of a stellar defensive effort.
Despite missing two starters, (Javaris Davis and Tray Matthews) the Tiger D did not allow Arkansas to score an offensive touchdown until three minutes were left in the game and then only against mostly third-stringers. The Tigers were relentless racking up eight tackles for a loss.
“We played with a chip on our shoulder coming off last week, making corrections and playing with an edge like Coach Steele always preaches,” said linebacker Darrell Williams. He along with fellow linebacker Deshaun Davis recovered three fumbles on the night.
In addition seven Tigers rang up sacks on Hog quarterback Cole Kelley, including sophomore Marlon Davidson who has had to battle through injuries to even be on the field.
But his counterpart Jeff Holland led the charge with six tackles, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and a recovered fumble. It was the first time since 2011 an Auburn player has forced two fumbles in the same game, when Corey Lemonier did it against Georgia. For his effort, the league office named the junior Co- SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
Some worried before the season if Auburn would have anyone that could fill the large, vacated shoes of pass rusher extraordinaire Carl Lawson. Holland has put all those concerns to rest. “Jeff has a knack for rushing the passer,” said defensive Coordinator Kevin Steele. “He’s got a gift of doing it … His fighting spirit is real. He just has a passion for the game.”
Also receiving SEC Player of The Week honors was Nick Coe, who was named SEC Freshman Player of the week. The defensive lineman tied Holland’s team-high six tackles, and he also had a half sack. It was the second Player of the Week recognition this year for Coe. It’s now evident why Coach Rodney Garner started him ahead of upperclassman and former 5-star recruit, Byron Cowart.
Coach Steele’s squad is now ranked 11th in the nation in that most important statistic—scoring defense. The Tigers are only allowing 15.6 points per game.
It’s evident they are a hard working, motivated group. More importantly they know what it is to be successful. And what’s that old saying, “Success breeds success.” Steele said, ‘The nucleus of the guys have been together for [two years] …“They’ve tasted some success and they kind of like it.”