The junior was the Defensive MVP of Auburn’s spring game and was expected to be one of the team’s standout defenders this fall at the “Star” position, which is the Tigers’ hybrid linebacker/safety position. However, Garrett missed the first two games of the season with a sprained foot before returning to play against Mississippi State and LSU, respectively. As quickly as he came back, Garrett was sidelined once more after suffering another foot injury.
Because of Garrett's prolonged absence, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said the player may take a medical redshirt and sit out the remainder of the season.
“He’s just now getting the boot off,” Johnson said. “He’ll start being able to do some things on it — gradually. It’s not my call, but frankly if he gets into that last week or so, it’d be my judgment that there ought to be a redshirt and bring him back. Hopefully he can stay healthy and get two more years.”
Johnson cautioned that the coaching staff still has yet to discuss whether Garrett will redshirt. If he doesn’t have any issues during his rehab, Johnson would be fine if the Tucker native returned this year.
“That may be a decision that’s made for us,” he said. “If he all of a sudden feels great, he could play two or three games and a bowl game, maybe that would be worth it.”
It’s been a frustrating campaign for Garrett so far. While dealing with his first foot injury, Robenson Therezie usurped him as the starter at Star. In an attempt to get him more playing time, Garrett shifted to weakside linebacker to compete for the starting job alongside Cassanova McKinzy. But in the two games he has been healthy enough to play, Garrett was essentially a non-factor, making just four total tackles, splitting the tally evenly between the Mississippi State and LSU contests.
Johnson reiterated that he believes Garrett should sit out the rest of the season to regain his full health, starting anew in the spring.
In the end, though, the coach knew only his player could make the final decision.
“I think we ought to respect the way he feels about it,” Johnson said. “(But) I certainly don’t think he should throw a year away to play a game or two.”
NO LETDOWN: Rhett Lashlee knows how easy it is to suffer a letdown.
This was especially true in Auburn’s case last Saturday; coming off a road victory for the first time in two years — and on top of that, having it come against reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M — it would have been understandable to see the Tigers start slowly against Florida Atlantic.
But as Lashlee gladly noted, that was far from the case with his unit.
“They took care of business early,” Auburn’s offensive coordinator said. “From that standpoint I was proud of them. I was really worried going in because that was a team that has been really good against the pass and had played some teams like Miami and others tough. Our guys came out with that mindset and put the issue away pretty early, which I thought was big. It allowed us to put other guys in the game.”
Of course, Lashlee made sure not to be too lavish with praise, as he still found areas that needed touching up.
“I didn’t like how we got sloppy towards the end of the game. We got a couple of penalties and did have a turnover,” he said. “We had some issues there, but at the same time we were playing some guys in positions they don’t play that much in practice. Our guys played hard.”
Johnson couldn’t complain about the defense, either.
In fact, after viewing the film, the Tigers played better than he initially thought.
“A lot of the things such as our run fits and our adjustments and so forth were a little bit cleaner than it looked during the course of the game,” he said. “The one thing that could have been a little better (was that) our tackling at times was not very good.”
Johnson went on to recount how the Tigers missed four tackles on one play, which he said was a combination of over-pursuing to the ball and taking bad angles while attempting to make a tackle.
Otherwise, Johnson had few complaints with a defense that allowed only 10 points and blanked an opponent in the final period for the fifth time this season.
“We tried to play aggressive,” he said. “We came out, we focused, we tuned in. We didn't let the situation take control — they took control of the situation. We were very pleased with the overall performance.”