Hard Work Paying Off For Mincy And Defense

Junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy and the No. 8 Auburn Tigers take on the Tennessee Vols this Saturday in Neyland Stadium.

Auburn, Ala.--There have been many players who have taken their games to a higher level for the Auburn Tigers in 2013 and one of the most improved is junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy. Playing on a defense that has faced 319 passes this season, Mincy rarely comes off the field and gets plenty of action with senior Chris Davis on the opposite side.

Like any defensive back he has given up a play here or there, but he has also responded with big plays of his own. Leading the team with 10 pass break-ups and second on the team with 41 tackles, Mincy credits Coach Melvin Smith and plenty of hard work for his increased production and better technique.

"It has improved tremendously," Mincy said. "That's something I prided myself on this offseason and that's something when Coach Smith first got here was an area he felt I was very weak at. I just had to tighten up on my man coverage and really work on my technique."

While Mincy and Davis have played a large number of snaps this season, there have been plenty of other positions where backups have played in key spots for the Auburn defense. Whether it's Ryan Smith stepping up at safety or Ryan White making the move from cornerback to safety without the benefit of a practice, or even linebacker Javiee Mitchell making big plays in the win over Arkansas, time and time again this defense has had a player step up when called on. Mincy said that is part of the makeup of this team.

"It's a good feeling," Mincy said. "Coach Malzahn always stresses that the backups be ready to play because you never know when your name is going to be called. It's a good thing just having everybody being able to step up to the challenge. It's something we pride ourselves on at Auburn."

One of the reasons the Tigers have an 8-1 record is that both the defense and offense have performed well in the red zone. Holding opponents to just a 70 percent success rate (21-30) so far in 2013 and allowing just 13 touchdowns (41 percent), Auburn has worked hard to be better in that department and Mincy said keeping people out of the end zone is now something they expect.

"We pride ourselves on not letting anybody score," he said. "That is something we really work on day-in and day-out at practice. Keeping people out of the end zone is something that is real big to us. We're just going to continue to build on that."

Jonathon Mincy

Auburn's improvement in the red zone is a big part of the reason why the Tigers are allowing just 20.1 points per game and sitting with a record of 8-1 heading into this weekend's game against Tennessee in Knoxville. Having already exceeded the expectations that most had for the team heading into the year, Mincy said the Tigers have no plans to stop now.

"It feels good," he said. "It's something we worked hard for this offseason. We have been playing our butts off this season and it's something we had on our minds. Hopefully, we can continue to progress and go in the direction we want to go."

To get win number nine Auburn will have to take down a Tennessee team that has been solid at home. Currently 4-1 in Neyland Stadium with the only loss coming in the final seconds to Georgia, Coach Butch Jones' team will come out fighting on Saturday for the 11 a.m. kickoff and Mincy said he would expect nothing less.

"I know, as far as SEC games, they've been giving a lot of SEC teams a lot of trouble," Mincy said. "They've been in a lot of close games. We just know that it's going to be another SEC game, another physical game, and we're going to have to come back out and play ball."

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