Auburn, Ala.--Auburn senior Karibi Dede has done it all for the Tigers on defense in the last two seasons. Moving back and forth between the three linebacker positions, Dede will make another move this week as he moves back to middle linebacker as Auburn prepares to face second-ranked Florida Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Dede says that the move is something he doesn't have a problem with because he's already somewhat familiar with the position in Coach Will Muschamp's defense.
"It helps that during two-a-days I was actually the mike linebacker coming into the season," Dede says. "I think I played there all spring and into two-a-days. In the defense when he's making calls I just have to look at it from the middle perspective instead of the outside. It shouldn't be hard to make the adjustments and pick it up. I should actually be able to learn things in the film room without having to rep it on the field."
Dede celebrates a fumble recovery against Mississippi State.
Auburn's third-leading tackler this season with 29 stops and two tackles for a loss, Dede has started 18 consecutive games at linebacker for the Tigers. Because of that he's the player that has the working knowledge of not only Auburn's system but also how to play the position. He says because of that the move is an easy one for him to get back in the middle.
"Football is football," Dede says. "In the middle I think, one of the reasons they did this is because I have played linebacker for a while now and I have an easier time reading guards pulling and deciphering plays. They think it will help to have me in the middle. Sometimes on a counter play a younger guy might get lost on a false step by the back. I'm not going to bite on that one little short step as easily."
This week Dede's return to the middle comes at the same time heralded redshirt freshman Tray Blackmon's six-game suspension comes to an end. With Blackmon and Kevin Sears both back this week and the unit at full strength once again, Dede says it should help the defense if for no other reason than to get the full-bore energy of Blackmon in the game.
"When you have players like Kevin Sears and Tray Blackmon anything you can add depth-wise to the linebacking corps is always good," Dede says. "He's a big-time hitter which is big for momentum in a game. I'm just anxious to see him get out there and clock somebody."
Working on the weak side with Merrill Johnson, who Dede replaced in the middle, Blackmon is a player that brings something a little more to the defense. Despite missing the last month and a half because of his suspension, Blackmon is expected to get right into the thick of things on defense. Dede says that's the way it should be and if Blackmon needs any help he'll be right beside him to help in any way he can.
"I think it will work pretty smooth for everybody," Dede says. "I literally told Tray Blackmon today that if you're in there with me give me the first couple of days to figure out what I've got to do but after that I'll turn to you and tell you every assignment that you have…if I have a guy next to me playing Will linebacker I knew what I had to do there. Just because I move to Mike I'm not going to forget all that stuff. I can tell him what to do. I think the transition will happen fast and hopefully in a week or so we'll forget I even moved."
The move comes at a key time for the Tigers as they take on the Florida Gators after suffering their first loss of the season against Arkansas. A team that features quarterbacks Chris Leak and Tim Tebow as well as a horde of talented receivers, Dede says they're looking forward to the challenge of facing a Florida offense that is simpler than one might believe from the naked eye.
"Obviously they have a two-quarterback system and you get totally different plays with the two quarterbacks in there," Dede says. "All together on the whole I think they do a lot of different things as far as formations and motions go. I think they have a decent amount of base, core stuff, things they run. You can only teach college kids so many plays. It's not the pros, they don't have a 6,000 play playbook."