War Eagle Extra

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele wary of targeting talk

Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis reacts after getting ejected for targeting against Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis reacts after getting ejected for targeting against Vanderbilt Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. AP

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele reacted to the second targeting call on one of his defenders this season the same way he did the first — mostly avoiding the topic.

“I’m not going to say anything that’s above my pay grade,” Steele said Sunday night. “I’ll let someone who has got a higher pay grade pay a higher fine.”

Auburn linebacker Deshaun Davis was called for targeting in the first half against Vanderbilt Saturday for his hit on wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb.

Coach Gus Malzahn and Davis’ teammates expressed frustration over the call after the game.

Steele wouldn’t say whether or not he thought Davis was at fault on the play, but told reporters the advice he gives to his players.

“First, you got to keep your eyes up and second, you have to know how they call it,” Steele said. “You got to avoid how they call it, just got to avoid it.”

Steele laughed when asked if his approach to teaching tackling has changed over the years.

“Yeah. Yeah. It’s changed,” Steele said with a chuckle. “You got to realize in 1980 we just tackled. Now, you really got to spend time on it and rightfully so for the safety of the game. I totally get that. You got to spend it. The thing that’s very concerning is the head to head contact. Keep your eyes up and no head to head contact.”

Auburn linebacker Darrell Williams sympathized with his teammate.

“You don't really understand unless you're that player in that position,” Williams said. “We have tackling drills all the time: Technique, keep your head up, see what you're hitting. It's just a spur of the moment type deal.”

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra

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