'You know, they can't double-team everybody.'
Auburn returns its top three pass rushers — Derick Hall, Eku Leota and Colby Wooden — from a strong season in that department. And the ceiling for that unit is quite high.
EDGE Derick Hall (Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics)
Derick Hall can’t fly under the radar anymore.
Not after his 2021 season, when he registered nine sacks — tied for third-most in the SEC — and put on a show during a near-upset of Alabama in the Iron Bowl. Not after he represented Auburn at SEC Media Days last month and swept the first-team All-SEC awards in the preseason, including Tuesday’s reveal of the coaches’ selections.
Because of this, Hall knows he’s going to get extra attention from opposing offenses this fall. But he won’t let that bother him.
“The biggest thing with that, knowing you're going to get schemed up, knowing you're going to get double- and triple-teamed, is just not getting frustrated,” Hall said. “I'm going to have plenty of opportunities to make plays. I'm going to have plenty of games this year.”
Yet Hall isn’t the only Auburn edge rusher who might deserve some additional blockers in order to slow him down.
Eku Leota had seven sacks last season, his first at Auburn after transferring from Northwestern. Together, Hall and Leota had more combined sacks than any pair of teammates on the Plains since Nick Fairley and Antoine Carter on the 2010 national championship team.
So, let’s say a defense wants to commit extra blockers to both Hall and Leota on the edge. That creates even more 1-on-1 opportunities elsewhere — whether it’s second-team All-SEC defensive tackle Colby Wooden (who had the second-most quarterback pressures on the team last season), returning starter Marcus Harris (who has spent the entire offseason working on improving his pass rush) or a blitzing linebacker such as Owen Pappoe or Cam Riley.
“You know, they can't double-team everybody,” Leota said Wednesday.