Jason Caldwell's Monday Morning QB Column: NFL Experience A Key For New Auburn Football Assistant Hire

Looking at Auburn's hire of Greg Brown, the newcomers who could make an early impact for the Tigers, basketball issues and more.

Greg Brown (above) is the new member of the Auburn football coaching staff.

NFL Experience The Key

When Wesley McGriff decided to head to Ole Miss to take over as defensive coordinator for the Rebels, Auburn coaches Gus Malzahn and Kevin Steele had plenty of candidates to choose from, but they found what they were looking for in veteran Greg Brown.

What they wanted is someone with NFL experience to continue the teaching and philosophy that McGriff started with the group. That’s something Brown has plenty of in his background.

Coaching the secondary for 13 seasons in pro football, including two seasons in the USFL, Brown has a vast knowledge of coaching the positions at the highest level and that’s what is needed in college football today.

With teams spreading the field and putting four and five receivers in action on a single play, defenses have to be able to adjust and win on the field and not just fix problems during the week, something Brown has done a good job of during his career.

While being able to recruit is an important part of the job coaching college football, nowadays you have got to be able to adjust on the fly against offenses always looking for the edge. That ability to make in-game adjustments is something that NFL assistants have to be able to do and that’s what Brown will continue to bring to the Tigers.

Early Start Big For Several Newcomers

Sunday was move-in day for eight players who will begin their Auburn careers this spring and there is no question that quarterback Jarrett Stidham is the headliner of the early Tigers on campus. A five-star prospect and Baylor transfer, Stidham would have had plenty of attention in the spring as it was, but with the injury to Sean White he will get plenty of snaps while learning the offense. That can only help his chances of being the starter when the Tigers take the field next season.

Another player who will have plenty of chances to show what he can do this spring is tight end Sal Cannella. With Jalen Harris as Auburn’s only scholarship tight end, the 6-5, 225 Cannella will need to get bigger and stronger during the winter conditioning, but his receiving ability makes him an instant threat for playing time.

Auburn’s newest commitment, athletic quarterback Malik Willis, flipped his choice from Virginia Tech to the Tigers and is a player who could make an impact on the offense in a hurry. It would be surprising to see that be in 2017, but being on campus early makes him a threat to move ahead of a few of the other quarterbacks on if he makes some noise on the field.

As for the rest of the group it would be a surprise if any were able to make a move in the spring with K.J. Britt and Chandler Wooten joining a deep and talented linebacker group. The same is true of defensive back Malcolm Askew with depth a plus for the Tigers in the secondary. Still recovering from his injuries as a senior, offensive lineman Nick Brahms will likely be rehabbing during the winter and spring. Rounding out the group is big defensive lineman Tashawn Manning. Going through cancer treatments for the better part of the last year, Manning has been cleared to enroll at Auburn and will be in school this week. While his timetable for a return to football is still in question, just having Manning on campus is a big win.


Important Two Weeks Coming For Basketball Tigers

Despite being 0-3 in SEC play the season is far from over for Bruce Pearl’s Tigers. Coming into the year the goal was to make postseason play and that’s still very much within reach for this team, but the Tigers have got to continue to take strides forward.

That starts with being able to shoot the basketball and sophomore guard Bryce Brown may just be the key for this team. With Danjel Purifoy recovering from an ankle injury suffered on Saturday this could be the time that Anfernee McLemore sees more action at power forward, which could help defensively and with the rebounding.

Where Auburn needs more help right now is making shots from the perimeter. A key to what the Tigers want to do on defense comes from being able to set up the press following made baskets. There is no question that Jared Harper and Mustapha Heron must continue to be the main options for this team if Purifoy is out for an extended time, but getting another perimeter scorer is a must and Brown is a player who has it in him to get hot.

Why Brown is a key also extends to the defensive end. If he can get his shot to fall it will pick up his defense, something that has lagged during his slump. With Auburn’s struggles making threes and defending them, Brown is a huge piece of the puzzle for this team moving forward.

With games coming up at Kentucky and South Carolina in the next two weeks, Auburn needs to make some hay against Missouri, LSU and Alabama. That starts on Tuesday night in Columbia, Mo., in what can only be described as a near must-win game if Auburn hopes to play in the postseason.

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