New AU Coordinator Discusses Defensive Goals

As the Auburn Tigers prepare for their football opener, Paul Rhoads discusses what he wants to see from his group on Saturday night.

Auburn, Ala.--If everything goes according to his plan on opening night, new Auburn defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads will get to evaluate a lot of different players when he breaks down video of the ULM at Auburn contest.

Roads, who doubles as secondary coach, notes that he likes to keep fresh players on the field. "I would like to go into every game playing two-deep at every position, not just the secondary," he says.

"I think the more people you play obviously the better your conditioning will be as the game moves along and it also affects your conditioning as the season goes along," he adds.

"Secondly, I think it helps your team morale," Rhoads says. "You have got a lot of guys out there busting their tail every single day and you have got to reward them if they are able."

Auburn defensive teams have developed a reputation for being aggressive since Tommy Tuberville took over as head coach in 1999. Rhoads, who comes to Auburn from Pitt, has done some tweaking with the system.

"I don't anticipate any problems with our kids being aggressive," he says. "The thing about playing fast and playing confidently and playing aggressively is being smart and having knowledge. If you are having to think and are not sure of your assignment or your alignment, you aren't going to play as fast. It is our job as coaches to make sure by the 30th they are completely in tune to what their assignments are so they can play fast and aggressively."

As the Tigers head into Saturday night's season opener vs. the Warhawks, how far has the defense come since Roads arrived prior to spring training? "A long ways," Roads says without hesitation. "I felt at the end of spring ball we really hadn't mastered anything. We had exposure to about everything, but we hadn't mastered anything. I certainly wouldn't say we have mastered anything yet, but we are getting closer and we are certainly getting more game-ready."

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