Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Auburn Offense Demands Full Focus for Dog Defense

There's a lot to watch on the Auburn offense. There's a lot not to watch, too, which might be of even more importance to Coach Peter Sirmon as he prepares the Bulldog defense for the annual challenge. Sirmon's squad might also benefit this week from the hoped-for return of defensive end/viper Will Coleman and cornerback Cedric Jiles, though that won't be known until Saturday's 11:00am kickoff at Scott Field.

What does it mean getting Will Coleman and Cedric Jiles back? “A couple of guys coming back from injury, just in general it always goes back to what the injury was; what the progression is. Every position is a little bit different. I think the closer you get to the line of scrimmage sometimes it’s a little more challenge to get back because of the strain and the amount of contact you have. So everyone is a little different.”

“So if and when those guys are healthy and ready to contribute, we’ll see them on the field. But everyone is unique and every position is unique and everyone’s experience level, some guys could probably play the game without a lot of practice. Some guys, to think they couldn’t practice and go out in a game is probably unrealistic.”


How does it change the dynamic at corner and viper? “Again, it depends on the health of them, and how much they are available. The injuries take a big factor on how much they’re ready to play. All those things will be determined throughout the week of practice, it’s still pretty early in the week. So all those things will be determined by Saturday.”


Were they able to practice today? “Coach Mullen is handling all the practice news.”


After all his injuries what has Jiles’ attitude been this time around? “Ced’s been great. He’s been the same guy in my mind. He’s been attentive, he’s been coming to meetings, he’s been around and he’s been engaged. So unfortunately you’ve had a few injuries, you’ve got to know how to handle it. Which is not great, but there is some value in knowing when you’re hurt you’re going to heal up, knowing there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and keeping an optimistic, positive attitude while you’re injured.”


What have you seen from Auburn’s offense? “They do a lot of good stuff. I think they’re the #1 rushing offense in the conference. There’s a lot of different formations, you guys have all watched a lot of different formations. A lot of shifts and fly motions, a lot of window dressings to the play.”

“But most impressively they do a good job of executing their plays. I think they do a good job of planning them up vs. certain fronts. And I think the players do a nice job of executing and of blocking the right guys and getting yards.”


What kind of intensity have you seen from your guys coming off the break? “They’ve been good. We practiced last Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday, prior to the bye. I thought the guys had a good attention to detail and we really focused on some things we need to get better at.”

“The last two days of work have been really good. You see for lack of any other term fresh legs, and I think part of that is not only physically feeling better but emotionally feel a little bit better. You’re more recharged. Going through the season week to week to week sometimes it’s not necessarily the physical toll, but the amount of energy it takes to get ready to play.”

“And then the emotional highs and lows from winning and losing ultimately kind of gets you tired. So it’s good to take a breath and get those guys back.”


Much as you will welcome Coleman back at viper, is it tough to take a Jonathan Calvin off the field? “Yeah, we’ll make all those decisions as we get later in the week. Guys that have been playing well and guys that have been productive, as we get I guess to five-through-twelve of the regular season we have to do a good job of knowing there’s guys that need to continue to develop.”

“There’s a lot of reps that will be coming up in the next eight games. At one- or two-deep we’re all a play away from needing somebody to go in for us. So to get anybody back that has the experience and has the ability to help us would be great.”


With all the window dressing how do you prepare a young defense for that? “You know, you try to do the best you can controlling some of the calls. And ultimately trying to control the eyes, maybe for the kids even. Sometimes certain calls that we make can help minimize some of the distractions. Then just do as good a job as we can in the film room of making the multiples, kind of trying to simplify and give them the confidence in what they’re seeing and have them believe what they’re seeing.”


What makes the window dressing so effective? “It’s hard not to stare at cars driving by, you know?! You’ve got cars driving by you, in front of you, you’re looking through offensive linemen, they pull the ball out and the quarterback spins around… It goes back to the first day of football, and on defense most kids up to this level they get here, they’ve done one thing. That’s to look at the guy with the ball and chase the guy with the ball.”


Regarding that, how valuable is it to have seniors ‘up the middle’ who’ve seen this before? “Yeah, they’ve done a nice job. And I was talking to Richie (Brown) today about the things he remembers in these games and some of the tips and some of the things they’ve talked about prior to these games.”

“Guys that have been in the conference obviously, every time you play an opponent you get more comfortable with it. So the guys that have played a lot, I think they’re real comfortable with the plan. And you see the guys talking to some of the younger players. You know, Leo (Lewis) has never been on the field vs. these guys.”

“So there’s some things like that you want that leadership and that calm to really permeate to some of those guys that haven’t had that experience yet.”


Gus Malzahn handed play-calling over to the coordinator last week, do you see anything different from the first couple of games? “Not particularly. It’s my understanding they’ve been together for a long, long time. So it sounds like he’s been groomed under Coach Malzahn. I’m sure there’s some personality things but I would imagine with the coach being in that room there’s still a very, very heavy influence on the style of play we’re going to get.”

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