Auburn, Ala.--With cornerback T'Sharvan Bell unavailable vs. LSU with a hamstring injury and Neiko Thorpe playing with his left arm heavily wrapped limiting his mobility, Auburn’s coaches counted on true freshman Chris Davis to step up and perform well on Saturday.
Davis, who made three solo tackles in LSU’s 24-17 victory over LSU, handled that assignment well, according to Auburn head coach Gene Chizik.
“I am really proud of him,” Chizik says. “Here is a true freshman who has to go into obviously the biggest game of his career and one of the biggest games in the country and play against some really, really skilled wideouts. I thought he did a really did a nice job.”
Fortunately for the Tigers, Thorpe was able to get the job done despite his heavily bandaged arm. If needed, another true freshman, Ryan White, was on the sidelines ready to go. Previous plans had been to redshirt White and that still could happen depending on the health of the other cornerbacks.
Commenting on Thorpe, Chizik says, “I was really proud of him. He was playing in kind of an uncomfortable situation.”
Davis, who was playing for Woodlawn High School in Birmingham at this time last year, looked quite comfortable in the battle of Top 10 teams. Davis says he welcomed the opportunity to be thrown into the middle of the action as the SEC’s only two unbeaten teams squared off at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“It was a good challenge,” he says. “Coach (cornerbacks coach Phillip Lolley) always tells me to sit in there and be patient, and that’s what I tried to do. He told me the game would come to me if I did that.”
The freshman’s assignments included man-to-man coverage on LSU standout wide receiver Rueben Randle. Davis did well in those situations. “I always step up with confidence,” he says. “It you don’t have confidence, you don’t need to be out there. I think I can check my man.”
Chris Davis is shown at an Auburn practice.
Davis helped Auburn hold LSU to 128 passing yards and 243 total yards. “The defense played good and it all started with pressure from the defensive line,” the freshman says. “In the fourth quarter our thinking was if we get the ball back for the offense, game over. We knew they would run the clock out, just like against Kentucky with a nine-minute drive.”
That is what happened as LSU’s fourth possession ended on a fourth down conversion that failed with 3:20. Auburn moved the football to the LSU goal line before letting time run out.
With the victory over LSU, Auburn is 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the SEC going into the team’s third SEC road test of the season at Ole Miss. The game will kick off at 5 p.m. CDT on Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium vs. the Rebels, who are 3-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play as they take on the Tigers, this week’s No. 1 team in the country according to the BCS rankings.
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