That is especially the case at cornerback where Auburn has struggled to make plays at the position since the days of Walter McFadden. In his senior season in 2009 McFadden had six interceptions for the Tigers. In the three seasons since Auburn's cornerbacks have combined for just seven picks.
One of the players who is hoping to help reverse that trend this season is junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy. A veteran who has 15 career starts, Mincy says that Coach Melvin Smith has made it a point of emphasis this spring and he believes it is already paying off on the field.
"That's something we stress every day in practice," Mincy says. "It's something that we're going to make happen because we practice it. I think with repetition you'll have turnovers throughout the season."
On Saturday in Auburn's first major scrimmage of the spring the defense continued its progression as Mincy and company had a solid performance and forced a pair of turnovers. It was another step in the right direction for the Tigers he says and it starts with effort.
"I think we played pretty well," Mincy says. "We flew around and that's something the coaching staff really stressed to us this week in practice. They wanted to see us flying around and doing our assignments. I think in those aspects we did very well."
Several players have made a move with their performances already this spring and on defense there is no question junior Justin Garrett is at the top of the list. Playing the "star" position after getting limited action at linebacker his first two seasons, Garrett is setting the pace for the rest of the defense and Mincy says everyone else has to catch up.
"By far it had to be Justin Garrett with the way he was flying around and just so energetic," Mincy says of the top performer in the scrimmage. "You can tell he has a different type of mindset about him for this season coming up. That is something we need from every play on defense and not just on defense, but every player on this team.
"He is taking all of the responsibility that comes with the starting position," Mincy adds. "He's in and out of the film room and trying to correct his mistakes every day. That's something everyone on this defense needs to do and we will do."