Auburn coach Gus Malzahn can see the outcome Saturday’s game against Texas A&M coming down to an individual matchup – Auburn left tackle Shon Coleman versus defensive end Myles Garrett.
In less than two seasons, Garrett has proven to be one of the elite pass rushers in the country, and a dominant force up front for the Aggies.
“You could tell last year as a true freshman he just has that 'it' factor,” Malzahn said. “If he knows it's a pass he makes it extremely challenging on you. Last year, he made one of the difference-making plays in our game when he blocked the field goal.”
Malzahn rarely lauds an individual player as he did with Garrett at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
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“He's just got a knack,” Malzahn said. “He's a playmaker. He's somebody that you've got to be aware of from an offensive standpoint because he can change the game.”
In Auburn’s 41-38 loss to Texas A&M last year, Coleman struggled to contain Garrett. Coleman is eager for a rematch against an opponent praised profusely.
“Great player, he’s having a great season,” Coleman said. “Been watching a lot of film on him, so great player, great player.”
Coleman said the game against Garrett in 2014 was the first time he lined up against a special player. An added year of experience has the junior feeling more comfortable heading into the rematch.
“Honestly, I’ve forgotten about last season,” Coleman said. “I’ve got a lot better this season, and I’m still working on some things. I feel like a new player this season. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to go up against a great player.”
A great player listed as Texas A&M statistical leader in a unique ‘havoc’ category in the team’s weekly game notes for the way he disrupts opposing offenses.
The Texas native has 10.5 sacks, 44 tackles with 15.5 for a loss, seven quarterback hits and five forced fumbles. The 6-foot-5, 260-pounder has at least one sack in six of the Aggies’ eight games this season.
He is second in the country in sacks, tied for third in tackles for loss and tied for first in forced fumbles.
As a true freshman, he finished tied for 10th in the country with a team-leading 11.5 sacks.