Knowing what he’s looking for to make his defense successful, Muschamp said he has got a pretty good idea of the talent level for the Tigers, but added that video can only show you so much about a team. Because of that he said he’s looking to see how the guys work on the practice field and in the meeting rooms, something that shows him a great deal heading into spring practice.
“From a standpoint of basics, fundamentals are never going to change,” Muschamp said. “I am going to ask the kids every day to give me great effort, a great attitude when they hit the field and great energy. Those three things are on you as a player, and we will handle the execution and other stuff as we move forward. That is always my idea defensively and what we need to do.
“It is our job as coaches to identify with the players what they can do," he said. "If they can not play man coverage, you need to figure out how to play zone and stop them. That’s the bottom line. If you can be a man team we would like to be a man team, we would like to be a middle field coverage team, we like to be able to mix things up.
"All of those decisions will be made moving forward and as we get into spring ball. Fundamentally, nothing has changed, but you have to identify with what your kids can do.”
Identifying strengths and weaknesses is one of the keys to being successful on the collegiate level, both on offense and defense. That is something that Muschamp has done a great job with since his first coordinator job at LSU. From his time at Auburn to Texas and then Florida, his defenses have been consistently good and he said that starts with practice and preparation.
“You see the guy’s work ethic and work habits and how he goes about his business,” Muschamp said. “For me, in order to be a really good player, God has got to bless you with some ability, but the most talented part you can have is work ethic. The best players I have been around are the guys that go work. They come out there every day and go to work.
"I was watching the Auburn-Oregon game the other night and there were a bunch of guys on the field that I personally recruited that worked. Josh Bynes, Craig Stevens and Zac Etheridge are guys that went out and worked every day and that is why they developed their skill set to have an opportunity to go out and win a national championship.”
It has been a long and winding road for Auburn’s defensive fortunes since that 2010 season. Allowing more and more points and yards, the Tigers have struggled to consistently slow offenses since that year. Even in that national title season Auburn was far from a shut-down defense, something Muschamp hopes to change in the future. That could make another championship run a reality sooner rather than later and that’s the ultimate goal for a guy that hopes to be a head coach sometime down the road once again.
“It's not just to me about being a head coach, it's about being somewhere where you know you're going to get support, the resources and financing you need to be successful and win championships,” Muschamp said. “For me it's not just about being a head coach. I'd rather be a defensive coordinator at a place like Auburn, where you know you can go and compete for a championship every year. And that's what we plan on doing.”