Carlton Davis (above) is taking a major role for the Auburn defense as a true freshman.
Auburn, Ala.--Throughout the first four games of Auburn's 2015 football season plenty of things have not gone as expected for the Tigers.
On defense new coordinator Will Muschamp inherited a group that struggled to stop the pass last season. The secondary gave up 239.2 yards per game in 2014, ranking the unit at 86th in the nation, but Muschamp says he has hopes that newcomers can make a positive difference.
After giving up more than 400 yards rushing against LSU, Auburn's defense committed to stopping the run against Mississippi State, allowing only 56 yards on the ground, the lowest total for an Auburn opponent since last year's win at Kansas State. However, Mississippi State's veteran quarterback, Dak Prescott, was able to generate enough offense for the Bulldogs to win the game as he threw for 270 yards and two touchdowns on 29-41 attempts.
On MSU’s first possession Prescott connected with wideout Gabe Myles on a 32-yard touchdown pass. “I'm disappointed with the touchdown pass, busted coverage obviously,” said Muschamp. “Extremely disappointed with the first drive. We needed to start fast in our home stadium. Our fans were there, they were great and we needed to start faster in that situation, especially with our offense taking seven minutes off the clock to start the game so I was frustrated with that.”
Prescott has terrorized teams with his rushing and scrambling ability over the past few seasons. Muschamp admitted that the defensive game plan was stopping him and the run and forcing the Bulldogs to pass.
“They had a lot of run-pass options, and we weren't going to let them run the ball,” Muschamp said. “We wanted to make him become a thrower, and make him beat us throwing the football. He made some throws in the game that certainly helped their football team. We needed to make a couple of more plays.”
Muschamp said he has been pleased with the newcomers in the secondary making progress, specifically true freshmen Carlton Davis and Jeremiah Dinson, along with Michigan graduate transfer Blake Countess.
“He's a good player,” said Muschamp of Davis. “He has got length. Their receivers were bigger receivers. Carlton, I thought played well. The ball on the (second) touchdown was a heck of a throw and catch on their part. He was in the position to make the play. I'd take my chances again. He is a good football player.”
Davis received the start at corner due to Countess moving from corner to safety, which was a “needed move,” according to Muschamp. “He is our best safety right now,” the coach declared. Countess led Auburn in tackles Saturday with nine.
Blake Countess (above) joined the Auburn team this summer.
Dinson started vs. Mississippi State at the nickel position. Muschamp called a “cerebral young man” and added, “I thought he played well. He is seeing a lot of things for the first time. He's a really good football player. He just continues to improve and get better with every rep. He is a very good corner, and a guy who can play nickel, and a guy who is so smart he can play a lot of positions for us.”
The Tigers, 2-2, return to action with a 3 p.m. Homecoming game at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday vs. San Jose State, which is also 2-2 following a 49-23 victory over Fresno State.