Lack of pass rush hurting Auburn’s defense

Carl Lawson's injury has significantly hindered Auburn's defense.
Jason Getz/Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

New coordinator, same results for Auburn as the injury of Carl Lawson has made the Tigers’ defense toothless in his absence. Four games into the season and Auburn only has six sacks on the year, good for 12 in the SEC. 

According to defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, the issue is getting to the quarterback with only four players. 

“We need to get more pressure on the quarterback (and) struggled rushing four guys,” Muschamp said. “A lot of their early downs situations were seven-man protections so it’s going to be hard getting four there, but somebody has got to win in the rush for us.”

Lawson was expected to be that ‘somebody’ with No. 1 defensive end recruit Byron Cowart expected to be an excellent second option for Auburn. With Lawson out to injury and Cowart accumulating four tackles and zero sacks in four games, that plan has failed miserably thus far. 

With no pressure in his face, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott picked apart the Tiger defense to the tune of 270 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Auburn dared Prescott to beat them with his arm and he did just that. 

So where do the Tigers go from here? Auburn’s coordinator didn’t reveal much, aside from giving the standard coach speak.

"We have a lot of work on," Muschamp said. "We’ll continue to do so and we need to get more pressure on the quarterback."

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