Muschamp Making Moves to Improve Defense

Will Muschamp made a pair of position changes as Auburn prepares for its game vs. Florida.

Auburn, Ala.--Will Muschamp isn't happy with the way his defense has played the past two weeks. On Sunday he set out to do something about it with a personnel change.

Senior Karibi Dede and sophomore Merrill Johnson are changing positions this week as Auburn prepares to face the Florida Gators.

"Hopefully, that will clear things up for us a little bit," says Muschamp. "Maybe we will get more crisp on our reads and doing some better things in there. That is where we are headed right now."

Johnson played the weakside position in the spring, but moved to middle linebacker in preseason drills when Dede was moved from middle linebacker to the weakside. With Tray Blackmon back in the mix at weakside linebacker after coming off a six-game suspension, Muschamp says he is trying to put his best lineup on the field.

"When things aren't going well you have got to find an answer," the defensive coordinator says.

Auburn is trying to bounce back from a 27-10 loss to Arkansas while preparing for a home game this week vs. 6-0 Florida.

"Give Arkansas credit," Muschamp says. "They came out and established the line of scrimmage and ran the ball extremely hard. Obviously, what we had planned didn't work. They did a good job of running the football. They had good backs and an offensive line. We didn't hold up our end on Saturday."

Muschamp notes there was a bright spot on defense in the loss to the Razorbacks. "Karibi Dede played a good football game," the coach says. "He was around the ball a lot, did a great job on his reads, he tackled well and played hard. We gave good effort. We just didn't have enough Saturday."

Karibi Dede has been a key player on defense for three seasons.

Muschamp says that he isn't sure if Blackmon will start this week, but notes that is a possibility. "Tray will fit in and he will play at the will (weakside) linebacker position. He has been getting a lot of mental reps and some reps on the side. We have been repping him through practice. He is a guy who will play on Saturday. We think he has a chance to be a good football player. We will see on game day.

"Merrill has played well for us, at times," Muschamp adds. "We feel like the will position is a little more natural for him. We will see how it looks. Merrill has played the will position until the middle of fall camp. Karibi played the mike position until the middle of fall camp. They are both very familiar with their positions. In our defense they are both interchangeable positions as are the safety positions so it is not a major change for us, I think."

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