Auburn linebacker T.J. Neal had high expectations coming to the Plains as a graduate transfer from Illinois. The former All Big Ten selection said as much during a training camp press conference.
“I think it was a great opportunity to come here and compete for some playing time, playing in this big-time conference,” Neal said. “I think it was the right fit.”
Neal’s opportunity never materialized in Auburn’s season-opening loss to Clemson. He was used so sparingly that coach Gus Malzahn was asked about it during his post game press conference.
“We just went with the guys that we felt were ready,” Malzahn said.
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Before Jordan-Hare Stadium even cleared out Saturday night, Neal took to Twitter to vent his frustrations.
“What a night it been for me,” Neal said. “A player who have 25 career starts and many stats Sat on the bench all night . Gots be more than life this.”
Neal wasn’t done there tweeting out his resume — 245 career tackles , 20TFL's, 2sack ,1 INT, 1FF and All Big ten honorable mention — and venting his frustration further.
“I have the world greatest mother,” Neal tweeted. “She drove 12 hours with my 2 sisters to come/support me and see me play two reps on special teams #Thanks”
Neal’s tweets comes on the heels of one of the best Auburn defensive performances of Malzahn’s tenure. It held a Clemson offense led by Heisman candidate Deshaun Watson to less than 300 total yards of offense and forced two turnovers.
“We (the defense) has been on the backburner,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “It’s how it’s always been, we would have to outscore people to win. I feel like we are turning heads.”
Auburn has an off day Sunday and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele is scheduled to meet with the media Monday night.