Montravius Adams (above) is a key player on the Auburn defensive front.
Auburn, Ala.--When Auburn defense takes the field on Saturday night against Mississippi State it will be an opportunity to see improvement for Coach Will Muschamp. Since he arrived back on the Plains last December the focus for him has been to bring the fire back for the Tigers.
Now three games into his return things aren’t going as planned as the defense is allowing 29.7 points and 442.7 yards per game. Muschamp isn’t about the give up on the season, however, and said now is the time to work even harder for his guys.
“We’ll continue to move forward and educate the young men on how we’re going to do things around here,” Muschamp said. “Quite frankly, we are changing the culture a little bit. We've got to practice better. We've got to prepare better. We've got to play better so that’s what we plan on doing.”
In addition to changing the culture, Muschamp is also trying to find the right combination of players for his defense. That means some new faces may be in the lineup when Auburn hits the field for game No. 4
One of the possible changes is using Cassanova McKinzy more on the line of scrimmage at the buck position, something he did during spring practice. Currently second on the team with 28 total tackles, McKinzy leads the way with two sacks and four tackles for losses. That is something that could earn him more time closer to the line of scrimmage, but Muschamp said that and any change first depends on executing the defense.
“He played some there Saturday on third down,” Muschamp said of McKinzy at the buck. “We’ll continue to look. We have just got to find our best 11 right now, guys that will play within the scheme, and system, doing things the right way, look at the right stuff and execute the call.”
Doing that would go a long way towards reducing what are horrific numbers against the run to this point. Last season Muschamp's Florida team allowed a total of 1,394 rushing yards in 12 games and 10 touchdowns on the ground. In three games Auburn has already given up 810 yards on the ground and nine touchdowns.
Will Muschamp and the Tigers will try to contain Mississippi State in a game that will kick off at 6:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
While some of the problems were physical last week with the defensive front getting knocked off the ball at times, Muschamp said just as many of the problems came because the guys aren’t on the same page. That’s a problem with communication, something that he said must and will get fixed one way or another.
“We don’t talk enough,” the defensive coordinator said. “We’ve tried to reduce our package week to week to week and it’s frustrating, you know, in order to make it a strength call and things like that that you’ve seen to sometimes as a college coach take for granted.
“Again, this comes back on me," Muschamp said. "I haven’t done a good enough job of preparing the players, obviously. We’ll continue to reduce and find out what we can do. I mean that in sincerity.”