Film Room: How Auburn's defensive front turned back the clock in the Iron Bowl
Auburn's impressive night against Alabama started up front. Here's why the Tigers excelled with their front four — and why it could continue in the future.
(Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
Auburn fans have had an interesting relationship with the Tigers’ pass rush over the last decade-plus.
In 2009, Antonio Coleman led Auburn with 10 sacks, and the Tigers averaged 2.15 per game as a team. Nick Fairley had 11.5 sacks — as a defensive tackle — in the 2010 national title season, and the Tigers averaged 2.5 as a team. Auburn’s pass rush dropped well below 2 sacks per game in 2011 and 2012, and it was rescued in 2013’s near-national title run with Dee Ford’s 10.5 sacks and a host of up-and-coming pass rushers.
Auburn struggled to get anything going in that area until Kevin Steele’s arrival as defensive coordinator in 2016. Carl Lawson led the way that year with nine sacks, then Jeff Holland cracked 10 in 2017’s SEC West title-winning season. In 2018, Auburn averaged 2.92 sacks per game as a team, with seven different players recording multiple sacks that season.
The Tigers got plenty of pressure behind Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson in 2019, bu…