The Auburn Tigers enjoyed one of the biggest turnarounds in college football history this season as they came one late defensive stop away from winning a BCS National Championship. Gus Malzahn is focused on making sure this rediscovered success sticks and that Auburn continues to be a competitive force in the SEC for years to come. Now, his sights turn to 2014 and replacing some serious talent on both sides of the ball. Luckily, the pass rush is in good hands with Carl Lawson stepping up next fall.
Lawson finished second on the team this season as a freshman, recording four sacks in 11 games with seven quarterback hurries and a pair of forced fumbles. The young defensive end showed that he has the skill set to be an elite pass rusher in the SEC and Auburn needs to tap into that potential to get him going in 2014. The team’s leader in the pass rush this season, Dee Ford, finished his Auburn career strong, recording 10.5 sacks in his senior season. Lawson needs to step up into the void that Ford left and get into the same double-digit sack territory to anchor this Tigers defense.
Most impressive about the statline of Lawson in 2013 is the fact that he didn’t start a single game this season. Coming in off the bench as part of the defensive rotation, Lawson made the most of his limited opportunities and will have a much bigger role in the offense next season with the door being opened by Ford’s departure. Auburn’s defense is filled with good, young playmakers and Lawson will pair up with fellow freshman Montravius Adams in the middle in 2014 to be a lethal combination on the defensive line.
Auburn has the pieces to compete for the SEC title again in 2014. The key for them will be to have young stars like Lawson step up into featured roles and flourish, providing the production needed to dominate their conference schedule. Is the young pass rusher ready to lead the way for the Tigers next fall?