Holland Looking For Even More From Defense

Auburn linebacker Jake Holland talks about the first scrimmage of the spring and what he's seen out of the defense.

Auburn, Ala.—With a new defensive coordinator on campus there were some bumps in the road to be expected for the Auburn Tigers this spring as the players try to get used to Coach Brian VanGorder's system. Giving up some big plays in Saturday's first scrimmage, the defense tightened up and earned some praise from the first-year coordinator for the way it responded later in the workout.

That sentiment is shared by junior linebacker Jake Holland as well. Trying to find his way on the defense while also trying to lead the young players at every position, the Pelham native said overall things went well for the guys one week into the spring.

"I was pleased with the scrimmage," Holland said. "There were a few explosive plays that we've got to get corrected, but that comes with repetition. I'm excited about the practice. We were moving well and were communicating. We're actually learning football and that's going to help us in the future."

Jake Holland

A starter last season before injuries made him a part-time performer, Holland is having to take on a big load for the Tigers this spring as the guy calling the signals in the middle of the defense. Even though he's trying to learn on the run he said it has gone surprisingly smooth because of how VanGorder explains things and translates it to the field of play.

"I feel really comfortable even though we are learning a new defense," Holland said. "It's because we are learning football that I'm able to learn this defense quickly. Everything is coming together really well. I'm excited about the future."

One of the biggest changes on the defense for Auburn is expected to be the play of the defensive line. More aggressive this spring with the focus on making plays in the backfield, Holland said it's going to be a big deal for the linebackers when the defensive line gels with the changes.

"It's going to be huge, especially in pass rush not having to stay in coverage for five seconds," Holland said. "It's going to be a big difference. It's obviously going to be a big difference in the running game.

"They are learning, that's all I can say," Holland added. "We do need to work on our pass rush. That's something we can get better at. They are young guys and they are going to learn technique. I'm excited for them and for the defense as a whole."

Now one week into the spring and with two more to go Holland said he's excited about the possibilities for the defense. Wanting to improve the techniques and fundamentals required to take things to the next level, the junior said being able to speak VanGorder's language already has him encouraged about where the Tigers can be following the spring.

"It has come along in a huge way," Holland said. "We are learning this new defense, but we're learning it quickly because we're learning football. We're learning how everything comes together. It's really helping us with our communication and allowing us to play fast and make plays."

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