There is a good chance that six-foot-five, 235-pound Karlos Dansby could be the man that Chizik is looking for as Auburn takes on LSU in an SEC Western Division football showdown. The senior linebacker is coming off a strong performance last week that included two tackles for a loss and quarterback sack in Auburn’s 45-13 victory over Mississippi State.
One of the top defensive players in the nation this year, the All-American candidate has eight interceptions, 182 tackles with 30 tackles for losses in a little more than 2 1/2 seasons of college football. A player who made the move from safety to linebacker last season with no problems, Dansby is a player who has a knack for being at the right place at the right time, something Chizik says isn’t an accident.
“I think he studies the game, but I think there is also a certain amount of intangibles for the game he has,” Chizik notes. “He just understands everything. He is like a coach. We watch hours of tape and understand things. You tell it to him and in five minutes he understands what took us hours to do.”
Dansby sacks Mississippi State quarterback Kyle York in last week's Auburn victory.
Dansby and his 5-2 Tigers will be looking for their sixth straight victory in a game televised nationally by ESPN at 6:45 p.m. A sellout crowd of 91,600 fans is expected at Tiger Stadium, where the weather forecast is for a 30 percent chance of rain.
Dansby and his Auburn teammates are hoping to bring the thunder with their physical style of play and rain on LSU’s parade in the divisional showdown. Auburn, which is 4-0 in the SEC, can take a two-game lead over ninth-ranked LSU in the divisional race with a victory. If LSU falls, the Bayou Bengals would be 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference and would have a difficult time reaching the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta, which is the No. 1 goal of Dansby and Auburn.
“We know what is stake with this game,” Dansby says. “We can control our own destiny if we win this game. If not we are depending on somebody else and we really want to control our own destiny.”
Dansby and the Tigers blitzed LSU 31-7 last year at Jordan-Hare Stadium and Coach Tommy Tuberville is 3-1 during his Auburn tenure in games vs. LSU. The only loss came two years ago in Baton Rouge in a makeup game to replace an earlier contest postponed by the 911 disaster. LSU won that game to earn a berth in the conference title game. Dansby says he will be doing his best to see that it doesn’t happen again.
“It was kind of wild, but I really wasn’t scared of going down there or anything,” he says of his first trip to Baton Rouge, a wild scene before, during and after the game in 2001. “It is an SEC road game and when you go on the road in the SEC fans get wild. That is the kind of play you can expect from their team.”
Dansby remembers LSU fans surrounding Tuberville and his family as they tried to board the team bus after that game. “They had a mob out there waiting,” he remembers. Dansby says he and other teammates tried to get off the bus to come to the coach’s rescue, but assistant coaches on the bus wouldn’t let any players out the door. “I wanted to, but the coaches told us to stay on,” Dansby says.
The Tubervilles got back to the bus unharmed, but Auburn’s SEC Championship dreams didn’t make it back to Auburn that night. A victory this Saturday in Baton Rouge will be a major step towards getting Auburn to the league title game in Atlanta this year.
Dansby says there is no secret about what the game plan will be on his side of the football. “Every SEC ball game we are going in to trying to stop the run,” he says. “That is our game plan. We ain’t worried about what they do now right now. We are just worried about how we are going to play on Saturday at 6:45.
“Every game in the SEC is challenge. It doesn’t matter whether it is at home or on the road. We are going to go into this one with the same mindset we had last week against Mississippi State and try to play our game.”