Auburn defense takes a few hits

USA TODAY Sports

While the Cougars have remained relatively healthy, Auburn is going to be without a few key players in the season opener

The Cougars were off on Monday as they run through a mock game week before next week's actual game week. Instead, the big news came out of Auburn where the Tigers will be without two more key defensive players for the season opener.

Defensive end Dee Ford and cornerback Jonathan Jones will not play against Washington State due to injuries. Ford -- who led Auburn in sacks last season -- is a big loss for the Tigers. He has a knee injury and is the only experienced player along Auburn's defensive line. Here is what Chris Fuhrmeister of College and Magnolia had to say about the loss of Ford:

He's easily the Tigers' top returning defensive lineman, and really, he's the only member of the front four who has proven himself on the field. He led Auburn with six sacks and was third on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss last season, and he added 34 tackles, eight quarterback hurries, one forced fumble and one pass breakup.

With Ford out, redshirt junior Justin DeLaine, who has been working with the second-team defense, could be in line to move into the starting role. DeLaine didn't make much of an impact last season, and he had injury issues of his own when he missed all but two games during his redshirt freshman season due to a knee injury.

Jones wasn't in line to start, but was likely going to see the field, especially with Auburn thin at cornerback. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson called Jones' injury a "critical loss to us." Back to Fuhrmeister:

With Jones out, true freshman Kamryn Melton, who weighs just 173 pounds, will likely be forced into action behind starter Jonathon Mincy, and freshman running back Johnathan Ford has even moved to cornerback to help with the depth issues.

Monday's news comes a few days after safety Demetruce McNeal, Auburn's leading tackler a year ago, was dismissed from the team. That's three key contributors Auburn will be forced to be without against WSU. It's impossible to compare the situation to WSU because we don't really know the status of Damante Horton and Casey Locker. They both went through walkthrough on Sunday so if we assume they will be good to go for the opener, WSU projects to be without only one player in the two-deep on either side. That's assuming Jacob Seydel's injury is serious enough to keep him out.

Football:

Pac-12 position battles heating up at skill positions | Lindy's Sports
Washington State: Depth across the boards has been a major problem for the Cougars since the Mike Price Era ended in Pullman and he made that ill-advised decision to take the Alabama job. Mike Leach has started to show his recruiting prowess, especially on offense where it is rumored that as many as 10 Cougars could start at wide receiver. Dominique Williams and Gabe Marks are key returnees, but behind them, shuffle the deck if you are trying to place wide outs in Leach’s offense in position.

Auburn:

Auburn football: Ford, Jones out for season opener | The Montgomery Advertiser | montgomeryadvertiser.com
AUBURN — A defense without its leading returning tackler will also be without its only proven pass rusher and one of the top defensive backs for at least the first game of the season. Auburn defensive end Dee Ford is out with a knee ligament injury and cornerback Jonathan Jones broke a bone in his foot, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Monday night.

Auburn defensive end Dee Ford expected to miss season opener against Washington State | al.com
Auburn defensive end Dee Ford is expected to miss the season opener with a knee injury. Auburn's leader in sacks in 2012 is the expected starter on the left side of the defensive line after sacking six quarterbacks. The senior has not practiced in nearly a week.

AUBURN FOOTBALL: Nick Marshall playing within offense, has major ‘upside’ at quarterback - OANow.com: AU Football
It was a simple checkdown pass, one of the game’s easiest plays. Truth is, running back Corey Grant’s legs did more to convert the third-and-14 than new quarterback Nick Marshall.

Men's basketball:

DaVonté Lacy’s AIA Team Falls in Final Games - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Washington State University men’s basketball junior DaVonté Lacy’s Athletes in Action (AIA) team dropped its final two games to the Jamaican National Team during its five-game series in Jamaica.

WSU Athletics:

Cougar Athletic Fund (CAF) Home Page - Washington State University Official Athletic Site
Thanks to the support of more than 6,000 members, the Cougar Athletic Fund (CAF), the fundraising arm of the Washington State Athletic Department, followed up a record-setting fundraising year in 2012 with the largest annual giving total in school history for fiscal year 2013, which concluded June 30.

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