Auburn’s rash of injuries spilled over to the defense Wednesday.
On the weekly SEC conference call, coach Gus Malzahn confirmed a report from ESPN’s Derek Tyson that defensive lineman Byron Cowart is out for the rest of the season following an appendectomy.
“He had an emergency appendectomy, that happened this morning,” Malzahn said. “I don’t know the status for how long he’s at, but it went well and he’s recovering well.”
Tyson first reported the news Wednesday morning citing an unnamed source.
The news comes on the heels of Malzahn ruling out four offensive starters for the team’s game against Alabama A&M and quarterback Sean White’s status up in the air.
Cowart has six tackles this season with one for a loss and a forced fumble. It’s the same number of tackles the defensive lineman had as a freshman playing 15 to 20 snaps a game.
Malzahn wasn’t ready to discuss how Cowart’s injury would impact the defense’s rotation on the line. Cowart was the second team defensive end behind Marlon Davidson.
“Everything happened pretty quickly,” Malzahn said.
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele has defended Cowart’s production this season — despite the meager numbers — multiple times this season.
“What he’s done is, he’s made the plays, been involved in the plays he’s supposed to be involved in,” Steele said.
Steele has consistently called the expectations put on the Florida native as a five-star recruit coming out of Armwood High School “unfair.”
“The expectations for him were unfair,” Steele said in August. “That's unfair because every guy's different, But he's handled it very well. He's come back really prepared to play and worked hard and developed and even today showed some really good physical toughness.”
Steele expects freshman Derrick Brown and linebacker Cameron Toney to take Cowart’s reps.