Florida was not the only school to see a star linebacker decide to return in 2015. Auburn learned today Cassanova McKinzy will be back for one more season in a Tigers uniform.
Apparently, the decision had some divine intervention involved.
As reported by Al.com, McKinzy was one of the many players around the country that submitted a request for an evaluation from the NFL’s advisory board. This feedback tends to sway the decision-making process one way or the other as well. It is unknown what McKinzy’s review had to say. McKinzy is coming back in 2015 extremely motivated after he and Auburn came up short of the SEC West title and a loss in the Outback Bowl, and that should be enough to instill fear in some opposing offenses as well.
McKinzy was Auburn’s second-leading tackler in 2014 with 91 total tackles. That included 11 tackles for a loss and 1.5 sacks with one interception.
Five different Auburn defensive players have been hit or limited with injuries this spring for the defending SEC champions.
According to Al.com,senior defensive back Robenson Therezie has a broken left hand,sophomore defensive lineman Elijah Daniel is out with a groin injury,sophomore linebacker JaViere Mitchell is missing the spring while still rehabbing from a broken foot suffered during the SEC Championship Game against Missouri, and junior linebacker Cassanova McKinzy is limited due to a bruised hip bone. Auburn is also playing it safe with junior safety Josh Holsey, who is working his way back from a torn ACL. The report says he could be practicing right now, but there is no need to rush him back at this point.
With the injuries this spring, Auburn has had to move some players around to fill holes. One defensive move made was moving defensive tackle Montravius Adams to the end to fill the hole left by Daniel. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson does not believe this will be a permanent move, which means Adams will go back to the inside once Daniel is back and ready to go. Justin Garrett, who had a foot injury slow him down a year ago, has been moving between linebacker spots, and he has been showing some promise.
“Justin has been very unselfish,” Johnson said, according to Al.com. “I hope he can return to the Justin Garrett we remember from last spring.”
Arkansas has had their chances but has not been able to capitalize against No. 8 Auburn. As a result, Auburn holds a 14-3 lead at halftime thanks to the defense coming up with big plays in key moments and the running game.
Auburn running back Tre Mason has two red zone touchdown runs, the only touchdowns of the game so far. Auburn has not tried much in the passing game, with Nick Marshall attempting just three passes and completing two for eight yards.
Arkansas drove 61 yards on 13 plays deep in to Auburn territory on the game’s opening possession but came away with nothing to show for it when AJ Derby had a pass intercepted by Cassanova McKinzy. Arkansas fumbled away the football on their second offensive possession and the Razorbacks would later be stuffed in a goal-line stand to come up empty once more.
Auburn’s defense has played well this season but is struggling to get off the field against Arkansas. though they have been bailed out by big plays when needed, Arkansas has converted seven out of 10 third down conversions. Arkansas has been on the field for over 21 minutes but has just three points to show for it.
If Arkansas can keep this going and avoid making mistakes, an upset bid may not be out of the question. But how long will it be until Auburn comes up with some big plays on offense to start evening out the time of possession?