Auburn’s defense doesn’t want to take baby steps this fall. It wants to be one of the best in the SEC and players are setting their goals accordingly.
“I’m thinkin 14 points or less a game,” Auburn defensive back Carlton Davis said after Saturday’s practice.
Auburn hasn’t held opponents to an average of 20 points or less in a season since 2008. The goal would be at least a 12-point improvement from last year’s defense that gave up 26 points per game (11th in the SEC).
It might be a lofty objective, but Davis stands by his projection.
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“We picked up right where we left off in the Birmingham Bowl,” Davis said. “It’s like it’s really on. We’re not going to be talked about at the beginning of the season, but I feel like once we go on a 5-0 run people will start to recognize what’s working for Auburn? It’s the defense. We’re getting better every day.”
Davis is ready to do his part.
Months removed from having a breakout campaign as a true freshman, the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder is hoping to have an even bigger impact this fall.
“I have been working on everything,” Davis said. “I have been working on everything trying to improve in every aspect of my game. I have been working my butt off. Hopefully I get to put on a show for you guys this fall.”
Last year, Davis secured a starting spot by week four against Mississippi State. There were growing pains early in the season, but Davis impressed coaches with his attitude and skill.
“You know what, I wish we had a lot more like Carlton; tough, competitive, football instincts, football IQ, OK?” former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. “And that guy’s got it. And you know what? It is important to him. Wish we had more like him.”
Davis developed into one of the top young corners in the conference by the end of the season and closed out the year with an MVP worthy performance against Memphis in Birmingham.
The defensive back had career-high 11 tackles in the 31-10 win, half a sack and he created an interception in the end zone for teammate Tray Matthews by breaking up a pass attempt in the end zone.
“I guess I had to grow up early,” Davis said. “Just putting me out there early made me a man I would say. I’m just here to show some leadership and provide for my team.”
Davis finished the season with 56 tackles, 38 solo, with two tackles for a loss and eight pass breakups. His three interceptions led the team and led all freshman in the SEC. He became the program’s first defensive back since 2009 to make the conference’s All-Freshman team.
Davis is convinced the future is even brighter for himself and Auburn’s defense.
“I feel it,” Davis said. “It’s like a gut feeling. I just feel it.”