New Position, New Strategy For Herring

Will Herring comments on his first day as an Auburn linebacker.

Auburn, Ala.--Day one of spring drills was a day of adjustments for senior defender Will Herring. After starting three years and redshirting one at free safety, Herring has to learn his new position at strongside linebacker under first-year position coach James Willis and first-year coordinator Will Muschamp.

When the Tigers put the pads for the first time on Thursday, Herring won't have to adjust much to the physical contact at his new position because he has played in the box enough from his safety spot. Herring says the mental adjustments, however, are going to take time and experience.

"I'm studying my playbook every day," he says. "You can know everything in the film room and on the board, but when you get out there and they're breaking the huddle, getting to the line and the ball is snapped, you have to think on the run. It's got to be second nature to you to be a true ball player."

While Auburn is trying to keep most of the defensive terminology the same from the transition from David Gibbs to Muschamp, some of the new play calling is a bit different than Herring has seen from former coordinators Gibbs or Gene Chizik.

"It's kind of rare on certain calls to play zone on one side and man on the other side at the same time," Herring says. "There are a lot of zone calls where in the past, we hear zone and we think zone all the across the whole field. We have some calls where we might be zoning this guy over here, then these two guys matching up man-to-man.

"It's a different thing. There are some other technical things with strength calls that are a little off and a little different than we've done in the past."

Herring has played well and proven to be a run stopper when lined up close to the line of scrimmage in past seasons. He is shown here stopping Ole Miss on a fourth down play in 2004.

As well as learning the new playbook, Herring says he is also trying to gain some weight to play the sam (strongside linebacker) position. Currently at "217 or 218" he should be big enough especially since he played well when his safety assignments put him in the box on many schemes in the past.

"A lot of times they are (similar)," Herring notes. "A lot of times the safety will walk in and walk down to the outside linebacker, and the linebackers will bump in. Sometimes the safety will walk inside the Sam linebacker, and he'll bump out. So a lot of times it's the same."

The Tigers return to practice for day two of spring drills on Wednesday for another day in shorts at 4 p.m. at the athletic complex.



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