Davis Getting Defensive In 2006

Sophomore Tristan Davis talks about his full-time spot at safety this season.

Auburn, Ala.--Tristan Davis has always been on the move. Whether it was playing running back, defensive back or running track at Tri-Cities High in East Point, Ga., he has always been one of the fastest players anywhere.

That didn't prepare him for the moves he would make in 2005 though as the speedster bounced back and forth between safety and running back for the Tigers. Playing in all 12 games Davis rushed for 209 yards on just 11 carries and also made four tackles.

Despite looking great on offense the need was on defense so Davis made the move back to safety in the spring. Now in a battle for the starting job at free safety with Aairon Savage, Davis says this two-a-days is definitely more relaxed even though he's in a battle.

Davis used his speed to have a big day at tailback last season vs. Kentucky.

"It's a lot less stressful than last year," he says. "Last year I was still thinking that one day I would be in the defensive room and this year I know that's where I'm always going. I have my mind prepared for defense this year."

Davis has always said that his best position is at running back and its hard to argue with that after watching him in 2005, but with the wealth of backs currently on the Auburn roster the move to safety was a natural for both Davis and the Tigers. He says that the move has forced him to work on some specific things in order to become a better player.

"This summer we became more flexible," Davis notes. "As for me I needed to work on my foot speed. I needed to be better breaking on balls and being more explosive out of my breaks. Playing running back I was used to running and making cuts. That was easy and natural for me. Coming out of breaks is harder."

Under the direction of first-year coordinator Will Muschamp, Auburn's defense is getting a makeover this season with new faces expected to play a great deal and some familiar faces in new places. Davis points out that learning the defense has kept this group on its toes throughout the spring and into preseason practices.

"I think it's helped us all," he says. "Once you start out new everybody is basically going to compete on the same level or at a higher level. Nobody is going to be given anything right now.

"There's a lot of mental preparation in this defense," he adds. "We have to stay in our playbooks. Coach will ask you a question and expect you to know the answer. It's very intense."

Davis has the size and speed to be a big hitter for the Tigers at strong safety.

With the move of sophomore Steve Gandy to linebacker to start the season just Davis and junior Eric Brock have experience playing at safety. That could be a concern to many, but for Davis it's just something the duo has to deal with this season. He says that by talking and sharing with each other they should be able to get the job done.

"It's kind of weird being a veteran and still a rookie at the same time," Davis says. "We're going to have to depend on each other more this year. I'm new to it, but I'm still one of the older guys. I'm going to have to depend on Eric and he's going to have to depend on me. We have to communicate with each other."

Despite all the moves the defense may be as talented from top to bottom as any in the Tommy Tuberville era. If things come together and players can get Muschamp's system down Davis predicts this team can be special.

"I feel like we're going to be very good this year," he says "I feel like this is probably going to be one of the hardest hitting defenses Auburn has had in a long time. I think everybody is hungry and everybody wants to be aggressive. This is an aggressive scheme so I think this is going to be a good defense."

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