Muschamp Sees Good Signs On Defense

A report on the Auburn University football team's defensive performance is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--The Tigers will hit the field on Wednesday for their seventh of 15 spring football practices. Based on what he has seen so far, Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says he has been relatively pleased with how his defenders have performed.

On Saturday, in the first of three major scrimmages planned this spring, the defense held the upper hand. Only two offensive touchdowns were scored--one by the first team offense and another by the second team.

"For the most part we tackled well for the first scrimmage," Muschamp says. "I was pleased we had some hard hits. We played physical for the most part at the point of attack. We didn't have a lot of mistakes. Of course, we weren't doing a lot so we shouldn't have had a lot of mistakes.

"We were over 80 percent on third down (stops), which is a goal for us, but we gave up four big plays in the scrimmage so that is something we have got to reduce," Muschamp says. "I thought for the most part we played the run well. We met our goal with the second group. With the first group we gave one run for 27 yards (by Brad Lester) and that was really a leveraging (outside containment) the ball problem, not anything else. We can do a better job with that. I am pretty pleased with the first scrimmage, but we also have a long way to go with what we want to accomplish."

Muschamp, who also coaches the secondary, says that freshman Zaccheus Etheridge is having a good spring. He is working at safety and as a nickel back and will probably play some cornerback the final week of practice, the coach says.

Backup middle linebacker Chris Evans, who had a scrimmage-leading 11 tackles, also won praise from Muschamp.

"The big thing we were looking for is kids who were going to play fast and make plays and those guys (Etheridge and Evans) kind of showed up," Muschamp says.

Chris Evans is running No. 1 at middle linebacker with Merrill Johnson recovering from a strained calf muscle.

"Mike Blanc did some good things for us inside. He is a young guy who is coming along. Antonio Coleman has showed up and done some good things. Craig Stevens played better at the point of the attack. He played more physical than he has. It has been good to see those young kids from the linebacker continue to come."

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