Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Judging by the performance of Auburn's defensive backs against Aaron Murray and Georgia Saturday, there may not be a unit on the Tiger squad where Gene Chizik could less afford a season-ending injury. But that's where this weekend's nationwide injury bug has struck the Tigers all the same.
Chizik announced Sunday that starting junior corner T'Sharvan Bell will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a major knee injury against the Bulldogs. Bell will undergo surgery sometime this week.
"The level of leadership that he gives, that's probably one of the bigger hits we’re going to take on the deal," Chizik said.
But valuable as Bell's leadership as one of the secondary's rare upperclassmen might be, his tangible contributions will be severely missed, too. Bell leads the Tigers with seven passes broken up, has two of Auburn's eight interceptions (tying for the team lead), and ranks fourth in tackles.
Making matters worse is the potential drop-off to Bell's replacement. Chizik will likely call on some combination of sophomore Ryan White, redshirt freshman Jonathon Mincy or true freshman Robenson Therezie to fill the hole, but none of the three players has seen extensive playing time before this season.
It won't matter much this week against FCS Samford. But where the Iron Bowl or the Tigers' bowl game is concerned, Bell's absence could be one of several very high hurdles for the beleaguered Auburn defense to clear.