Muschamp Looking For Fast And Physical

Auburn's defense is looking to get back on track against a very talented Florida offense this week.

Auburn, Ala.--The job for Auburn's defense this week is simple in terms of what they have to do but very difficult to actually pull off. Facing one of the country's most multiple offenses in terms of formations and personnel, Auburn's Will Muschamp is in charge of getting his defense back up this week to face Florida after a disappointing performance last week against Arkansas.

Perhaps the first step this week for the Tigers has been to get back to the basics of the defense. That is important when preparing for a team like the Gators who will move and try to force the defense into making mistakes before the ball is snapped. Muschamp says it's important for Auburn to be fundamentally sound this week in order to allow the athletic ability in players to come out and make plays.

"Florida does an awful lot and they execute very well and they're playing with an awful lot of confidence," Muschamp says. "I think what we've tried to do is simplify the plays then run in everything and the obviously be able to adjust to the new things they give us. They will give us new things. We've simplified what we're doing to make sure we're playing fast and physical.

"You've got to be able to make sure you're sound in what you are doing. The option is an equalizer in a game, which they've run a little bit of from the gun. It's something that you've got to be prepared for. You've got to make sure your kids understand where they have to be and what they have to do. That's what we've got to get back to."

The Tigers also have to get back to making plays defensively. In six games this season Auburn has forced just six turnovers and one of those was immediately given back on a fumble by Marquies Gunn against South Carolina. Muschamp says that his defense isn't producing in key situations and that's what playing defense is all about.

"It's pretty relative to how you play, the guys that have a lot of production," Muschamp says. "That means you're making plays. Right now we're struggling on third downs and struggling on turnovers. Last week we struggled stopping the run. Those are where your production is going to happen, on third downs, making turnovers, making big plays. Right now we're not doing that. We need to get back to making some of those plays and creating some momentum for our team and our offense."

The Auburn defense is hoping for a shot of energy with the unveiling of redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon.

A player that could help give the defense some production this week is talented redshirt freshman linebacker Tray Blackmon. Out the first six games because of a suspension, Muschamp says he's anxious to see Blackmon in action this week because of what he brings on the field and the kind of character he's shown off of it during his suspension.

"He'll get his share of snaps that's for sure," Muschamp says. "He's a kid that is looking forward to Saturday. Tray Blackmon is looking forward to this more than anyone else. He's a good kid that has made some mistakes and paid the price for it. He's been humble. He has understood that he made a mistake. He's a great kid. He'll play a lot."

Helping to ease Blackmon in this week will be some changes at the linebacker position with Karibi Dede moving to the middle and Merrill Johnson back to his original weak side spot where he's expected to split time with Blackmon. While Kevin Sears is essentially a co-number one in the middle with Dede and has a great deal of experience, Muschamp says that Dede's influence on the game in the middle is something that should help the defense this week.

"Karibi is a very intelligent kid," Muschamp says. "He understands the scheme and what we're trying to do. He really has a great understanding of the front seven especially. Karibi to this point has been our most instinctive player in the front seven as far as making plays but he's played linebacker before and the other guys haven't. That helps. It helps to have seen a power before. It helps to see a counter before. It helps to see a lead before. It helps to see the lead draw before. It helps."


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories