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How is Auburn’s defense coming along in 2016 spring practices?
ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 07: Carl Lawson #55 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates a sack with teammate Kenneth Carter #92 in the second quarter against the Missouri Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at Georgia Dome on December 7, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

We have told you a lot about the quarterback race going on at Auburn over spring practices, but how is the defense coming along?

A couple of things to know about the Auburn defense as a primer: they were not very good in the 2015 season. While things were hyped up with Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator, things never clicked, and an injury to defensive end Carl Lawson meant the Tigers didn’t have that real play-maker on defense for most of the season.

Exit Muschamp, enter former LSU defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

Will Steele be able to have the same success at Auburn that he had at LSU? Here’s what he thinks:

Defensive end Marlon Davidson was one of the crown jewels of Auburn’s 2016 recruiting class, and the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder is apparently impressing in his time at spring practices. There is still obviously a learning curve at the college level, but hearing such good things about a young player already is a positive for the Tigers.

Auburn actually did well at limiting “big” plays in 2015, ranking 30th in the nation in plays of 20-plus yards allowed. Crank that up to 40 yards, and Auburn ranked fifth, allowing only five such plays all year.

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The problem? The Tigers got first-downed to death. Auburn was 89th in the nation in allowing plays of at least 10 yards, and they ranked 110th in the nation in opponents’ third-down conversion rate. While it is still good if the defense appears to be limiting big plays, there is still a lot of work to do in other areas.

Auburn will have Montravius Adams, Dontavious Russell, and Lawson all back in 2016, and they will be adding Davidson and five-star recruit Derrick Brown coming over the summer. What Auburn really needs out of their defense is a play-maker, and there is certainly potential here for one to breakout. It will likely be Lawson if he stays healthy, but if he is getting help from the rest of the line, that is only going to help the Auburn defense minimize big plays and get off of the field.

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We will get the chance to find out more about Auburn’s defense later this week, as the annual A-Day spring game takes place this Saturday.

*stats courtesy of CFBstats.com*

Bo was born in Atlanta, GA, and has always been a savvy sports follower. He attended Georgia Tech and has previously worked with ESPN TrueHoop, HawksHoop, and the Georgia Tech Newsroom. He covers national college football for FanBuzz.
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