Auburn’s defense is expected to improve in its second year under the direction of veteran coordinator Ellis Johnson, but the Tigers have suffered their first setback of the 2014 season. Coach Gus Malzahn announced at SEC Media Days that defensive end Carl Lawson suffered a torn ACL and is expected to miss most of the 2014 season.
“I'd like to confirm that Carl had successful ACL surgery the first part of May,” Malzahn said at SEC Media Days.
“He injured his knee the last week of spring practice. Dr. Andrews looked at it, wanted to wait a couple weeks till the swelling went down to be sure. He confirmed he needed surgery. It was successful.
Carl is working extremely hard and he's determined to come back towards the end of this year.”
Lawson is expected to return at some point during the 2014 season, and it would be a surprise if he spent the year as a redshirt, especially with a likely early entry into the NFL Draft after his junior year. The sophomore could target a late-season return, especially with key conference games against South Carolina, Ole Miss and Georgia in the final half of the year.
As a true freshman last season, Lawson played in all 14 games, registered 20 tackles (7.5 for a loss) and recorded four sacks.
Lawson was projected to be a third-team Athlon Sports All-SEC performer in 2014. His emergence was critical for an Auburn defense that was already losing first-round pick Dee Ford and defensive tackle Nosa Eguae.
With Lawson out indefinitely, the Tigers need more from sophomore Elijah Daniel and senior LaDarius Owens off the edge.
Auburn’s defense allowed 5.9 yards per play last season and gave up 29.6 points per game in SEC contests.
Despite the yards and points allowed, the Tigers made stops when it counted. Auburn led the SEC in third-down defense and finished second in redzone defense.