Auburn has some pass rush 'juice' in JUCO transfer DaVonte Lambert
After watching film Thursday night, Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Garner couldn’t emphasis enough on Friday how much Auburn needs an outside pass-rusher.
“We have got to get someone to step up to take ownership of being an outside rusher,” said Garner. “I feel like we got some good interior guys but the challenge is definitively to develop a guy that can play winning football on the edge in this conference.
When you get in a third-and-long situation, you really need some guy with some juice like Dee Ford or Carl Lawson, that is just a true edge guy, that can really get that quarterback off the spot.”
The Tigers might have several upperclassmen returning on the defensive line but Ford, now in the NFL and Lawson, out after ACL surgery, had 14.5 of Auburn’s 32 sacks last year.
LaDarius Owens was Lawson’s backup, registering 30 tackles and 2.5 sacks. But Garner feels he is still trying to “get the rust off” him. It was just eight days before last year’s opener that Owens moved from his natural linebacker position to defensive end. Owens has also missed valuable practice time over the last year with a stress fracture in his tibia and a foot injury.
Garner has shuffled people around in camp to explore different options at defensive end. Gabe Wright, a natural defensive tackle, is a good option on first and second-down. Linebacker Cassanova McKinzy is another option but getting reps at two different position in camp has been difficult.
The answer to the pass-rushing need could come from junior college transfer DaVonte Lambert.
Lambert, one of the highest ranked defensive linemen among the junior college ranks, was originally going to Tennessee. He changed his mind in the 11th hour though, committing to Auburn. Lambert arrived on the Plains this summer via Georgia Military College where he recorded eight sacks.
“Two years in military school I think definitely helped him: the discipline part, the accountability part,” said Garner. “He has a burning desire to be a very good player.”
Lining up on the left side of the line, Lambert’s athleticism puts him at the top of Garner’s depth chart.
“He is pushing to be a No. 1. Right now he is a No.2,” said Garner. “If he keeps pushing, he’ll be a No. 1. He is a very big, athletic kid. He may not look it but he is No. 1 or No. 2 as far as athleticism in the group. I wish I could give some of his traits, some of his intangibles, to some of the other guys. It would definitely make the room a little better.”