Jeff Holland, Nick Coe enjoying early breakthroughs on Auburn's defensive line

Share on

Nick Coe and Jeff Holland have been major factors in Auburn's early season success along the defensive line,

Through two games this season, Auburn's defense has put together stellar performances that have buoyed the team.

First was the opener against Georgia Southern, which saw the defense turn in a dominating and historic effort. Then came last weekend's showing at Clemson, in which Auburn held the defending national champions to just 14 points, 284 total yards and just 4.2 yards per play -- which was Clemson's lowest per-play average since Nov. 15, 2014 against Georgia Tech.

For as steady as Auburn's defense has been at each level this season, the unquestioned strength of the unit has been the defensive line.

"There's no doubt about it at this point in time," Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said. "I don't think anybody would argue with the fact that how we're built and how we're playing starts and ends with the defensive line, and they're affecting the game."

While the line features familiar faces in returning Dontavius Russell and Marlon Davidson, as well as sophomore tackle Derrick Brown, there have been two linemen who have enjoyed an early breakout after being obscured in past seasons -- junior Jeff Holland and redshirt freshman Nick Coe.

Holland is no stranger to seeing the field for Auburn. He appeared in all 13 games each of his first two seasons but recorded 13 total tackles in each of those years. This season, after replacing Carl Lawson and taking "ownership" of the Buck position, Holland is on pace to dwarf those numbers this season.

Jeff Holland has taken 'ownership' at Buck position for Auburn

Through two games, Holland has nine total tackles -- tied with Brown for most among Auburn's defensive linemen -- and 1.5 sacks. He was menacing in his first career start against Georgia Southern, and he kept it up last weekend against Clemson in helping Auburn's defense set the tone early against the defending national champions.

Holland finished the Clemson game with four total tackles, including half a sack, to go with a forced fumble, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. The quarterback hurry, which came early in the second quarter, likely saved a touchdown. On first-and-10 from the Auburn 43-yard line, Holland hit Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant as he prepared to throw downfield to Hunter Renfrow, who appeared open across the middle on a double move with nothing but green space in front of him. Holland's pressure affected the pass as he hit Bryant's throwing arm and the ball fell well short of its intended target.

"Jeff's certainly raised his play, but that's what happens from freshman year to sophomore year to junior year," Steele said. "That's just the matriculation that happens in college football. They're not professionals where they're getting paid and that's their job. They're still in developmental stage and he's now figured it out at a high level. He plays with relentless pursuit. He's affecting others on the other side of the line of scrimmage and affecting our players in a positive way."

'Freak of nature' Nick Coe reminds teammate of No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick Myles Garrett

In just his second career game, Coe continued to affect the line of scrimmage. He finished the Clemson game with two total tackles, including his first career sack. He now has four tackles in two games after redshirting last season, and although he has yet to start a game along the line, he has factored heavily into the deep rotation up front and has enjoyed success at defensive end in Auburn's Rabbits pass-rushing package on obvious third-down passing situations.

That was the case during his first sack, on which he teamed up with Holland to take down Bryant. On Auburn's first defensive drive, Clemson faced third-and-8 from its own 41-yard line. Bryant dropped back to pass, only to be brought down by Coe and Holland for an 11-yard loss that forced Clemson to punt.

Coe beat Clemson left tackle Mitch Hyatt, who -- according to CFB Film Room -- allowed just the second sack of his career in 1,091 snaps in pass protection. While Holland's pressure from the right side, where he easily beat Tremayne Anchrum, factored into Coe's ability to beat Hyatt and record the sack, it's still an impressive feat against one of the nation's most reliable left tackles.

"He looked a little bit more comfortable there," Steele said of Coe. "I think probably the biggest thing that was noticeable was the pass rush, but for obvious reasons. The week before there were very few passes and they were play-action passes. I think seeing him rush the passer in the drop-back pass game you can see that he brings something to that." 

Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele recaps performance against Clemson

Share on
Article Jeff Holland, Nick Coe enjoying early breakthroughs on Auburn's defensive line compiled by Original article here

You might also like