Just a few days after learning wide receiver Duke Williams will return to action for the Auburn Tigers, the team was informed of the news that defensive end DaVonte Lambert will be out the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
Tuesday, head coach Gus Malzahn announced that Lambert, the team’s sack leader, underwent season-ending knee surgery. Lambert sustained the injury during last weekend’s meaningless win against Samford and the defense, which has struggled in recent weeks, takes another huge hit by losing Lambert’s major production along the defensive line.
In 2014, Lambert, a four-star JUCO transfer, recorded 24 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, and 3.5 sacks. A major issue with the Tigers defense has been their inability to pressure the quarterback and without Lambert in the lineup, the Tigers will rely on depth to get to Crimson Tide quarterback Blake Sims, who could pick apart the Auburn defense with the alleviated pressure.
Lambert’s likely replacement will be tackle Gabe Wright, who will shift out to the end position.
“He’s a factor, there’s no doubt,” Malzahn said, per the Montgomery Advisor. “But we need some other guys to step up. Football’s a team game and when you’re playing against your rival, it’s got the ability to make guys step up and play better than they have all year. That’s what we need.”
Despite being out of the College Football Playoff hunt, the Tigers have a lot left to play for when they square off against arch rival Alabama in this weekend’s Iron Bowl. Auburn won last year’s contest in dramatic fashion and the Crimson Tide will look for revenge in the 2014 classic. Alabama is in the driver’s seat for the number one seed in the first-ever College Football Playoff, but must get by the Tigers to stay the course.
*Section Photo credit to Shane Keyser, Kansas City Star; Featured Photo (above) credit to Trent Penny, Anniston Star