Auburn Football: 5 Reasons Why Auburn Will Have a Great Defense in 2012
The Auburn Family has seen better days when it comes to the success of their football team, but unlike many other teams, there will be a lot fewer bad days. Auburn's defense is about to dominate the SEC.
When it comes to ferocious SEC defenses, most would think of Alabama, LSU or even Florida.
That's OK by Auburn—they like to come out of nowhere, just like they did in 2010.
Though Auburn had a pretty terrible defense in 2011, a lot of growing and learning has happened since then, as have some big changes.
Here are five reasons why Auburn's defense will be somethin' else in 2012.
The defensive players who are expected to start next season will all be upper classmen. They are no long green players who are wet behind the ears.
They are all players who have faced everything the SEC West and beyond has to offer.
Experience goes a long way, and that young team from 2011 will be all grown up when they hit the turf in just two short months.
Led by senior linebackers Daren Bates, Jonathan Evans and senior cornerback T'Sharvan Bell, this Auburn defense will be one of the most experienced in the SEC.
2. Powerful Defensive Line
In football, everything starts up front at the line of scrimmage. The course of every play is completely dictated by the success of the big uglies at the line.
Auburn's defensive line is one of the most underrated in the nation heading into 2012, and they are also one of the deepest.
The Tigers line is filled with a lot of juniors who are ready to take the fight to the enemy and will be anchored by junior defensive tackles Kenneth Carter (6'4", 290 lbs) and Jeffrey Whitaker (6'4", 312 lbs).
They aren't the biggest boys on the block, but they don't need to be; they are talented and experienced, and Auburn runs a 4-3 base defense.
My favorite guy on Auburn's line is a little-touted senior named Jamar Travis. At 6-foot-nothing, he doesn't get a lot of hype—but as an Alabama fan, he reminds me so much of the Tide's recently graduated Nick Gentry: short, stout and dedicated.
The real meat of Auburn's defensive line lies in their defensive ends.
3. Ruthless Pass Rush
Auburn has a special player on their defensive line who I consider to be the best pass-rusher in not only the SEC, but the nation as well.
Corey Lemonier is an absolute terror and any quarterback's worst nightmare.
His 9.5 sacks, 15 tackles for losses and five forced fumbles in 2011 speaks for itself.
His wingman on the other side of the line will be Dee Ford, who I am certain will replace Nosa Eguae as the starter.
Ford is a much more agile and dangerous end than Eguae is, and though he is fresh from his back injury, I suspect he will be a better left defensive end than LSU's Barkevious Mingo.
The Auburn defense will suffocate opposing quarterbacks with this duo and put even Alabama and LSU's offensive lines to the test.
4. Daren Bates
Daren Bates is my favorite linebacker in the nation, even ahead of any player on my beloved Crimson Tide (Dont'a Hightower and Rolando McClain included).
The guy plays like an elephant in the body of a capuchin monkey.
He is only 5'11" and now roughly 220 lbs, but he plays with as much heart and mind than anyone in the nation.
Opposing fans laugh at his size and ask questions like, "Does Auburn really not have anyone better?"
But I have the perfect retort for that.
Bates is nearly the exact same size as football legend/fallen Army Ranger Pat Tillman, and he plays with equal ferocity.
As a senior Bates will be a leader of this defense, and you can bet he will surpass his 104 total tackles from 2011.
Bates is one of the most underrated linebackers in the nation, and if he had three or four more inches in height, he would get the recognition his production deserves.
That's OK by him, I'm sure. It just means opposing teams may overlook him in the film room, and he'll make them pay on Saturdays.
5. Brian VanGorder
Auburn's new defensive coordinator, Brian VanGorder, is one of the best the game has to offer.
During his four-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons, the organization had one of the better defenses in the NFL. Before that, VanGorder won the Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach while at Georgia.
For Alabama fans reading this who need a close-to-home example, VanGorder is as good as Kirby Smart.
Auburn's defense is experienced and talented, but they need the right man to call the plays.
Ted Roof was not that man. Brian VanGorder is.
Bonus: Brian VanGorder Has a Moustache
Let's be honest here.
Have you ever seen a moustache as majestic as Brian VanGorder's since the mighty Ron Burgundy took the world by storm?
And the hair, oh the hair...
The way that VanGorder pulls off the '70s look in spectacular fashion tells me that he's a guy you don't want to mess with.
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