The Auburn Tigers are trying to pick up the pieces after nearly losing on their home field to FCS juggernauts Jacksonville State.
The No. 18 Tigers escaped Jordan-Hare Stadium with a 27-20 overtime win against the Gamecocks, but the war of attrition took its toll. They lost Georgia native, defensive back Joshua Holsey to an ACL tear in the win. Head coach Gus Malzahn says Holsey’s injury doesn’t just affect one person, but rather the entire team.
“It’s tough on him,” Malzahn said in a press conference Tuesday. “And he’s one of our team leaders too. And I know a lot of his teammates are hurting for him…not just on the field but just the type of person he is”
With Holsey out, several freshman are due to pick up some of the slack the senior leader left behind. And don’t think Coach Malzahn will let Holsey slide despite his injury.
“He’s still going to be apart of what we’re doing. He’s still going to be a leader. Like I said, he’s an outstanding leader who represents us the right way. He was looking for a big year.”
The Tigers hope junior defensive back T.J. Davis can return to the team in the next couple of weeks after undergoing ACL surgery of his own back in March. Senior defensive end Carl Lawson is also looking doubtful. He is recovering from a hip flexor injury.
The Tigers will have to rely on aforementioned inexperienced players to fill crucial gaps. Their next game is on the road against the No. 13 LSU Tigers. The cross-division rivals pose a serious threat to Auburn by way of a tremendous running game behind Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette. Coach Malzahn also noted that sophomore quarterback Brandon Harris had improved greatly since last year’s game. Auburn wants to reverse their losing trend when going to Death Valley. The Tigers haven’t won in Baton Rouge since blowing out the Bayou Bengals 41-7 in 1999.
Offensive Coordinator Rhett Lashlee admits that it’s hard to prepare for a team that has limited game footage. LSU’s first game of the season against McNeese state was cancelled because of poor weather conditions.
“It’s tough,” Lashlee remarked. “We only have one game to go off of, but it was a good opponent, a conference opponent.”
That opponent: previously ranked Mississippi State. LSU held on to beat the Bulldogs in Starkville, capping their 15th win of the series in 16 games against them.
“They had a big game on the road. And they only have two games to go off on us. So I don’t think that’s a huge deal anymore than it is for them,” Lashlee continued.
Both Tigers teams tee it up Saturday at 3:30 EDT on CBS and WRBL News 3.