Muschamp Likes Progress On AU's Defense

Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said he is encouraged by what he is seeing in practice as the Tigers prepare for their first scrimmage of spring training.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn football team worked out in full pads for two hours on Thursday and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp noted that he is seeing progress on his side of the line of scrimmage.

“I am very pleased with our attitude and the buy-in,” Muschamp said.

“When you are teaching a new scheme and system, which I have done a bunch before, I feel like we are a little further along than most places we have been because the guys have spent a lot of time off the field of coming in and meeting with coaches extra and doing a good job of coaching each other and being real mature about trying to handle things.”

The Tigers will get to the halfway point of spring drills on Saturday when they will have their first scrimmage.

One of the players Muschamp said is off to a good start is cornerback Josh Holsey, who the coach said is having an “outstanding” spring. “He has really come on and I think he really runs well on the top end and plays the ball well down the field.”

Holsey, who worked at safety last year, looks like he will land at the cornerback position for his senior year, the spot he played early in his AU career. “He certainly is a very physical, capable player, especially at the cornerback position,” Muschamp said.

“He has shown outstanding coverage ability, in my opinion, against a very good corps of wideouts here,” he said.

Another defensive back who has caught the coach’s attention is Rudy Ford, a returning starter at safety. Ford, who played cornerback and running back as a true freshman, is getting practice time at cornerback and safety.

“He is an outstanding guy on the top end as far as his speed is concerned,” said Muschamp, who declared the Tigers could win with Ford at cornerback. “I have been very pleased with how he has progressed.”

Sophomore Stephen Roberts is getting plenty of work at cornerback with senior Jonathan Jones limited by an ankle injury and junior T.J. Davis out for the spring after having ACL surgery. Jones is a returning starter.

Muschamp said he is “extremely disappointed” that Davis had to undergo surgery. “He is an outstanding young man and was having a very good spring,” the coach said. “It is certainly an area where we couldn’t afford to lose anyone.”

Muschamp noted the secondary is a part of the team where true freshmen will have a chance to contribute this fall. Travaris Robinson is coaching the cornerbacks and safeties along with graduate assistant coach Blake Gideon, who played for Muschamp at the University of Texas.

Muschamp is working with the inside linebackers and Lance Thompson is coaching the “buck” position, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker. Rodney Garner is coaching the defensive tackles and ends.

The Tigers are working on their 3-4 alignment in practice this week and Muschamp noted he is “throwing a lot” at the players to see what they can handle.

The defensive coordinator said he is curious to see how the players make adjustments in a game situation on Saturday at the stadium when the Tigers have their first scrimmage of the spring.

In other news and notes:

*The Tigers worked on red zone, first and 10 situations and third down situations in the offense vs. defense portions of the practice. “We had a good third down period today,” Muschamp said.

*Senior Derrick Moncrief, who played safety last season, is seeing action as a nickel back/strongside linebacker. “He has done a nice job,” said Muschamp, who added, “He has got to continue to work on some of the coverage things in space, but is a guy certainly with the skill set to play that position and be an effective player for us.”

Derrick Moncrief, who made 27 tackles last season as a transfer from junior college, will look to play a bigger role this fall as a senior.

Muschamp said that last year at Florida his defense spent only about 20-25 percent of the snaps in a traditional three-linebacker formation because of the nature of offenses in the league, noting that Arkansas and LSU are the only true two-back offenses while Alabama also runs a high percentage of two-back sets. “Most everyone is a one-back,” he pointed out, adding, “That is where the game is heading.”

*Linebacker Tre Williams has had hamstring issue that has limited him some in practice, but Muschamp said the sophomore is showing promise playing both of the inside linebacker spots.

Daniel Carlson is expected to handle Auburn’s field goals, extra points and kickoff duties this season. The redshirt sophomore from Colorado Springs, Colo., made 18-24 field goals last season.

*Gimel President, a returning starter at defensive end, has been limited by what Muschamp said is a minor groin pull.

*The A-Day Game is scheduled for Saturday, April 18th at 1 p.m. CDT.

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