Auburn, Ala.--Preparing to face one of the top offenses in the country in Oklahoma led by Heisman Trophy finalists Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook, the Auburn Tigers could have been forced to do some shuffling on defense when secondary Coach Wesley McGriff agreed to become the defensive coordinator at Ole Miss.
Fortunately for Auburn and its defensive coordinator, Kevin Steele, McGriff is staying on to coach the secondary for the Tigers for the Sguar Bowl and that is important, senior cornerback Josh Holsey noted.
“I felt it was big for us,” Holsey said. “He’s always been one of those guys where he doesn’t leave unless the job is done. He harps on finishing the job so that was kind of big for us for him to stay and coach us for the next few weeks and get some knowledge out of him while we have him around before he goes. He’s going to do a great job over there but it’s going to be great to have him around for a few more weeks before he heads out.”
Used to change in the coaching staff over his five years at Auburn, Holsey said it’s something the younger players have to adjust to because it’s a way of life in college football. Even though McGriff will be coaching in the same division when he takes over the Rebels, Holsey said it’s all about living in the moment right now and getting ready for the Sugar Bowl.
“I kind of told them it is a business,” Holsey said of his advice for the young players. “Things happen. Changes are a part of life. We’re happy for him. Nobody is too down. You can’t pass up an opportunity like that to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC so everybody is happy.
“They are embracing it and they’re going to just get ready to come back and keep working. That’s kind of the message I told them. You can’t really harp on it but just keep getting prepared for whoever comes in.”
Preparation has been the name of the game this week with Auburn focusing more on the gameplan for Oklahoma, but they’ve also had the chance to continue to look at younger players on both sides of the ball. As one of the veterans on the defense Holsey has watched closely as guys like Marlon Character have made plays in the secondary.
He said whoever comes in to coach the group next season is going to be in for a treat with all of the young talent that will be on the field for Auburn like Carlton Davis and Javaris Davis.
“They're going to be really, really good once they get everybody back,” Holsey said. “Once they get Jamel Dean back, J.D. (Jeremiah Dinson) back, they're going to be really hard to deal with come next year. I feel bad for whoever they have to go against, especially the offense in the spring.
“Those guys are going to be really, really good. They're getting Carlton back, they're getting J.D. (Javaris Davis) back, who was a freshman All-American. It's going to be a great secondary. I can't wait to watch those guys once I leave."
Before that happens Holsey and fellow seniors such as Rudy Ford, Montravius Adams and Maurice Swain will have the opportunity for one more game in an Auburn uniform. Knowing the challenge in front of them, Holsey said the defense has put in the work and he’s happy with how they’re preparing for the final game of the year.
“Everybody is excited to be out there running around,” he said. “Coaches fired up, players fired up. It’s a great opportunity for us. We’ve been flying around running to the ball. Getting ready for this great game we’ve got coming up. It’s been good. We’re getting better and better. We have to keep it up.”