Will Muschamp's defense gave up 411 rushing yards last week to LSU.
Auburn, Ala.--Will Muschamp said he is to blame for Auburn's poor defensive performance at LSU and also said to expect changes in the starting lineup when the Tigers return to action on Saturday night vs. Mississippi State.
Following Wednesday night’s practice Auburn’s first-year defensive coordinator didn’t say what the changes would be in the lineup would as the Tigers look to bounce back from a 45-21 loss in Baton Rouge in the SEC football opener for Gus Malzahn’s team.
Auburn’s inability to stop the run vs. LSU wasn’t because of just one issue, Muschamp pointed out.
“It is from all three levels,”?he said. “You have got to play blocks up front, you can’t get split on double-teams, you can’t get cut out of gaps, you have to address blocks on the corner as a linebacker. In a game like that you have to be able to get off blocks and make a tackle. You have to leverage the ball from the secondary and make a tackle.
“A lot of it is want-to,” Muschamp said. “You have got to want to stick your face in the fan and tackle. That team out-physicaled us on Saturday. It was frustrating, disappointing, embarrassing--whatever you want to call it. It starts with me. We are going to continue to improve and move forward.
“I knew there would be some tough days,” he added. “We are certainly frustrated with the performance starting with the first play, but more than anything not responding. That was probably the most frustrating.”
Asked about changes in the starting lineup the defensive coordinator said, “Yeah, there will be. I mean you’ll see Saturday night. Whenever you play, coach--whatever--as dismal as we did you’ve got to make some changes. That’s just bottom line. You can’t continue to get the same results and really the first two games winning coats and soothes a lot of things.
“I’ve been trying to tell these guys every Sunday after the game we’ve got to communicate better, we’ve got to have better eye control, we have to have better discipline. Multiple things. You say it over and over and over again, but again winning soothes and coats a lot of things. Sometimes you have triumph you have to have great tragedy and we certainly did Saturday.”
On Tuesday the head coach announced that Sean White will start at quarterback. Muschamp had these comments on what he has seen from the redshirt freshman.
“He’s an accurate thrower that is athletic and can certainly function very well in our system. I think he understands our system very well. Under the situation, I don’t know when Gus named the starter in camp sometime, but certainly there was competition going on from my perspective. He was very productive and these players have a lot of confidence in. That’s as much as anything when you see the confidence the players have in him.”
Junior offensive tackle Shon Coleman said he wasn’t surprised that White was promoted to starting quarterback this week over struggling junior Jeremy Johnson. “Obviously, the coaches made a decision that was better for our team,” he said. “I’m all for going with what’s best for the team. I wouldn’t say it’s a surprise. I have confidence in both of those guys so whoever steps up and plays this weekend I know they'll do a good job, but like I said it's a decision that the coaches made to better the team so I'm not surprised at all.”
Commenting on White, a redshirt freshman, White said, “He throws the ball well. Every time I see him throw the ball he is an accurate passer. He has that ‘it factor’ like Coach Malzahn says. He is a great leaders so I think he will do a great job.”
Asked for his assessment of the offensive line heading into game four, Coleman said, “I think we are in a good spot right now. Obviously, we want to get better every week so that is what we are trying to do this week, definitely get better. We obviously have got a new quarterback back there so we have got to kind of work with him on the chemistry. That is going to be a big deal this week.”
The offensive tackle said despite his team’s poor performance he believes the Tigers can bounce back. “Guys have to step up fast, man, because we have got a big game this weekend that we are looking forward to so we are trying to get everybody on deck and everybody on the same page where we can get better.”
In other news and notes:
*Muschamp said that senior linebacker Justin Garrett will definitely be ready to play this week after missing the LSU with a pulled quad muscle. Garrett warmed up on Saturday in Baton Rouge, but was having trouble cutting so a last-minute decision was made to hold him out.
Justin Garrett (above)can play all of the linebacker spots for the Tigers.
“He went in pregame last week, and I didn’t feel good about his quad," Muschamp said. "He strained it a little bit. He’s practiced, he practiced last week. He had a really hard time at the top end really cutting it loose, and I didn’t really want to risk pulling another one on Saturday after watching him in pregame. I visited with the medical staff, and they felt the same way. Justin felt he was pulling a little bit, he wanted to play, but just didn’t feel like he was going to go.”
*Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. on Saturday with the game being televised on ESPN2.
*The Auburn Network’s radio coverage featuring Rod Bramblett, Stan White, Quentin Riggins and Paul Ellen can be heard locally in Auburn on 94.3FM with coverage also on Sirius Channel 83 and XM Channel 190.
*Auburn leads the series 61-25-2 and has a 28-6 record in games vs. the Tigers played in Auburn. The last victory for the Bulldogs in Jordan-Hare Stadium came in 2007, a 19-14 decision.