Clayton Impressive Pulling Double Duty

Zach Clayton

Auburn sophomore Zach Clayton talks about his dual role and moving forward following a loss.

Auburn, Ala.--One of the top performers Saturday night for the Auburn Tigers on defense against Vanderbilt was sophomore defensive lineman Zach Clayton. A backup at defensive tackle for much of the season, Clayton was thrust into duty at both tackle and end with injuries to Sen'Derrick Marks and Michael Goggans.

He responded with one of the best defensive performances of the season. Playing roughly half of Auburn's defensive snaps, Clayton made four solo tackles and also added a sack. He says while it took some getting used to he enjoyed playing both positions and getting more time on the field.

"It wasn't really that bad because the two positions are pretty similar on some of the calls," Clayton says. "It worked out pretty well. I didn't have too much trouble with it.

"I played well," Clayton adds. "I enjoyed playing both positions. I'm just trying to help the team and try and make plays."

With so many players banged up on the defensive side of the ball Clayton wasn't the only reserve playing significant minutes against the Commodores. Defensive backs Neiko Thorpe and Mike Slade as well as linebacker Spencer Pybus all played a great deal in the loss. Looking like the second unit for muc of the night, Clayton says it may have concerned some people but he had confidence they would get the job done.

"You can always count on the guys that were in there with me," Clayton says. "We just closed ranks and got done what we had to get done."

Expected to continue playing both spots at least for the foreseeable future, Clayton says right now he's focusing on improving his technique to help him make even more plays for the Tigers. He says that will help him handle the subtle differences between the two positions.

"I did some positive things, but still have some stuff to improve on, hand-fit, steps, things like that," Clayton says. "I made some improvements but I definitely have some things I can work on.

"At end you're more on an island so you have to read a little bit more," he adds. "At tackle you have a little bit of leeway and can rely on the guys on either side of you. At end you definitely have to read a little more and focus in."

Currently 4-2 and 2-2 in SEC play, Auburn must get back to work in a hurry with the Arkansas Razorbacks coming to town this weekend. Clayton says that even though a loss is always hard you've got to move on and prepare the same each week.

"It's always tough when you lose a game like that," says Clayton, who a champion discus thrower in high school who also competes for the Auburn track and field team. "We've just got to bounce back and get ready for the one this week.

"You can't really focus on it," he adds. "After you get done watching the film you've got to put it behind you. It was a tough loss but you've got to step forward and make up for it."

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