Muschamp Wants More Defensive Improvements

Will Muschamp discusses the defense as the Tigers enter the stretch run of spring football drills.

Auburn, Ala.--After studying video of Auburn's second major scrimmage of spring football practice, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp says he was encouraged by what he watched.

"We played the run better with the first group than I originally thought," he says. "We had a couple of breakdowns that are very correctable up front.

"We need to make more plays at the linebacker position," Muschamp points out. "Patrick Trahan was really the only guy who really stepped up. Craig Stevens did some good things.

"Up front Mike Blanc continues to play well," Muschamp says of the 2006 defensive line signee, who redshirted last fall. "The guy has had an outstanding spring. He works real hard and I am real proud of him.

"We have to continue to take steps forward as a defense and get some injured guys back out there," Muschamp adds. "We have a bunch of injured guys out now. In order for us to get better, we have got to have those guys practicing."

Starting tackle Sen'Derrick Marks is out for the rest of spring drills with an ankle sprain. First team middle linebacker Merrill Johnson (calf strain) was injured a week ago on Saturday in the first scrimmage and hasn't play since. Starting cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (shoulder bruise) also missed the second scrimmage.

Looking at the second defense as a whole, Muschamp says he saw general improvement, but notes the group still needs work. "We made some progress, but they made more mental errors than you would like," he says. "We have put a little bit more on them and we are going to continue to install the rest of the spring and look at some opponent problems. That is kind of where we are right now."

Muschamp has been urging physical play from his defenders and saw some of that on Saturday, but points out he wants a more complete effort than he saw in Saturday's 140-play scrimmage. "The kids are playing tough, but I felt like late in the scrimmage we had some guys who got tired and laid down on us," the defensive coordinator says. "We can't afford that to happen. It is a long season, a tough season. We have to have guys raise their level of play. We had some who did, but not enough. We need more players to do that."

The Tigers, who were off on Sunday and Monday, return to practice on Tuesday. On Saturday the Tigers will be on display at 1 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium for the annual A-Day spring football game.

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