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Closing window for Auburn defense creates sense of urgency, improvement

Michael Niziolek


Auburn linebacker Cassanova McKinzy called the defense’s goal line stand early in the second quarter Saturday against Georgia one of the group’s finest moments in years.

The Tigers veteran upperclassman had to go all the way back to 2013 for a comparable stand by the defense when Javiere Mitchell made a pair of tackles at the 1-yard line against Arkansas.

“It’s been a minute,” McKinzy said, of the defense feeling that good.

Auburn’s defense continued its upward trend at Jordan-Hare Stadium, and forcing a turnover on downs at the 2-yard line set the tone for the impressive performance.

“I think we did really well, probably one of our better games,” McKinzy said. “Everybody played their part, everyone did what they had to do individually.”

McKinzy finished with seven tackles, a sack and three quarterback hits.

After Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson threw an interception, McKinzy forced Georgia to settle for a field goal by sacking Greyson Lambert on a third down try for a loss of 11 yards.

Auburn ended up only allowing one touchdown for a second straight week as it held Georgia to 243 yards, a season-low for yards allowed by the defense.

McKinzy isn’t surprised by the way the defense has steadily improved in recent weeks considering the sense of urgency players have had in practice, and during games.

The linebacker made it a point this week to come up with a new slogan to push the seniors heading into the final stretch of games – “leave the number and jersey in a better place than you found it.”

“We have a group of seniors that want to get better and leave Auburn getting back to the defense like it used to be,” McKinzy said.

McKinzy knows time is short this season to make that impact, but with games left ob the schedule no one is giving up just yet.

“As a senior you want to go out with a bang, if that’s just beating Alabama, and Idaho, so be it,” McKinzy said. “We can’t go back in the past and get those games back.”

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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