AUBURN - It's called the L.O. package, and the man for whom it is named likes it a lot.
LaDarius Owens helps bring down Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd/Photos by Todd Van Emst
Sophomore defensive end LaDarius Owens played something of a hybrid position in last Saturday's season-opening 26-19 loss to Clemson. And he created some havoc for the Clemson offense.
"I was kind of a backer, just bringing in another pass rusher in a different kind of look," said Owens, who started his Auburn career as a linebacker. "I felt like I was back at home a little bit. It was refreshing. Hopefully we'll continue to do it and I can have fun with it."
Owens explained that he had significant freedom in the L.O. package.
"I stand up and basically move around free to do whatever," Owens said. "It's based on how I feel. It's kind of a free blitzer or free coverage type thing. Hopefully, we can build on it a lot. It was successful. Hopefully we can continue to do it."
Playing the position, Owens said, requires knowledge of the opposing defense.
"I have to recognize offensive line protections more, understand before the snap who the center points out and which way they are going to slide," Owens said. "I have to know where my d-linemen are going to be so I can fit off them and won't leave any open lanes. You have to be intellectually in tune to the game and understand offenses more with that package."
Owens said he remains a defensive end and that he doesn't expect the package to result in him changing positions.
Monday was mostly a study day for Auburn football players.
With no classes on Labor Day, players spent most of the day in meetings and studying film. They had light practice in shorts as they began preparations for Saturday's Southeastern Conference opener at Mississippi State.
The game will kick off at 11 a.m. and be televised by ESPN.
Sophomore tailback Tre Mason, who rushed 14 times for a career-high 106 yards against Clemson, said there was much about which to be encouraged.
"I felt like we didn't score in the red zone like we were supposed to, but I feel like our o-line played a very good game," Mason said. "It's very encouraging. We know from this step they are only going to get better. We are just looking forward to people stepping up and continuing to get better every week."
Mason was a step away numerous times from going the distance against Clemson. He said making that next step is a priority.
"I try to get to the secondary every time I touch the ball," Mason said. "Their safety kept tackling me every time I got to the secondary. I'm going to work on trying to get me an open-field move and try to get going next time."
Defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder challenged the defensive line Monday to get consistent pressure on quarterbacks with no blitzing.
"Coach VanGorder stressed he wanted to have a four-man pass rush," Wright said. We need to step it up and the back seven needs to do their job. The ends did a good job making him step up. Sometimes, maybe the tackles didn't get out of a gap, including myself.
"Any defensive coordinator, if they could have four people rushing or three people rushing and get pressure and be able to drop seven or eight, who wouldn't want that?"
It's a safe bet that Auburn players will work in the indoor practice facility with cowbells ringing loudly in their ears at some point over the next two days. They'll hear those live on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.
"All offseason we've been working on winning on the road," Mason said. "Some of our practice days are road days. We feel like that will be the most challenging, winning on the road. The Georgia Dome, we took that as a road game because it's not here. I felt like we adjusted pretty well to that. We're going to take care of business."