“Overall, I think that spring was very successful,” Malzahn said. “Our guys really responded well to Coach Muschamp and our new defensive staff.”
Joining Muschamp as defensive assistants this year are newcomers Travaris Robinson, who is working with the secondary, and Lance Thompson, who coaches the “buck” position. Rodney Garner is headed into his third season as Auburn’s defensive line coach.
Asked if it is a positive to have a former head coach on his staff, Malzahn said, “Well, it definitely helps me. I have a guy that has been a head coach in our league and our league is very unique. He brings a lot of experience and he brings a lot of trust, too.
“We have really worked hard on our coaches and our players developing trust over the spring,” Malzahn pointed out. “Expectations are extremely high, the bar is set high and he holds me accountable. He brings his ‘A’ game every day to every meeting, every practice and our defensive guys really responded. They’re taking on his personality.”
Muschamp has a record of success as a defensive coordinator and bringing him back to Auburn, where he had worked as a graduate assistant coach and a coordinator, was considered a big deal when the Tigers hired him in December.
“I think it was very competitive,” Malzahn said about the process for bringing Muschamp on board. “A lot of people wanted him and I think he’s the best in the business at what he does. When I decided to make the change he was the guy I wanted so we recruited him extremely hard and we’re blessed to have him as our defensive coordinator.”
Malzahn said he believes it is “very important” to have a defensive coordinator who knows the SEC. “Our league is unique and I think any time that you’ve had success in our league and experience in our league I think it does nothing but help because guys coming in from the outside sometimes take some years to get used to everything and how the talent is and the speed is in our league. But, probably most importantly, every week is a grind and it takes getting used to.”