Auburn Defensive Outlook
|Thursday, August 30, 2012, 1:35 PM- -|
Auburn's Defensive Outlook
Auburn allowed 28.9 points per game and 408 yards per game a season ago. Clemson torched Auburn for 238 yards on the ground and 386 through the air. Clemson's 624 yards were the most the Tigers recorded last season.
Defensive coordinator Ted Roof left for Central Florida and eventually ended up at Penn State. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik turned to Brian Van Gorder to run his defense. Van Gorder is known in the SEC from his days at Georgia but he has spent the past few seasons in the NFL.
This is the strength of the Tiger defense. There is plenty of depth and talent here. Corey Lemonier is the biggest name. As a sophomore he had 9.5 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries. The other staring defensive end is Dee Ford who had 30 tackles a year ago. Nosa Eque started 11 games a season ago is now a back up as is LaDarius Owens, another highly recruited player.
At defensive tackle the position is even deeper. Jefferey Whitaker returns for his junior season after starting 13 games last year. Angelo Blackson played as a true freshman last year and is the other listed starter. Gabe Wright is a highly recruited tackle that also played as a true freshman. Keith Carter actually started 10 games last year but is listed as a backup. Tyler Nero is a true freshman that will play Saturday night.
The Tigers return two starting linebackers from a season ago. Darren Bates and Jonathan Evans are the only two starters that are seniors on defense. Bates was the club's leading tackler last season with 104 stops. Evans added 40. The new starting middle linebacker is Jake Holland, a junior who had 43 tackles last season. Depth should not be much of an issue here. Ashton Richardson is an experienced senior at SAM while Kris Frost is a highly recruited newcomer at the WILL spot.
Auburn's secondary features mostly upperclassmen. Chris Davis and Ryan White will be the starting corners. Davis was the third leading tackler last year with 60 stops. White started twice last season and had 23 tackles. Jermaine Whitehead beat out Demetruce McNeal at the strong safety slot. Ryan Smith takes over at free safety.
Auburn's defense is deep in its front seven and a little shaky in the secondary according to some observers. The unknown is the scheme. Sometimes NFL guys come back to college and it takes a while for the scheme to set in. Heading into any opener it is difficult to prepare because of new personnel but it is even more difficult to open up against a new coordinator.
I expect Auburn will try to take advantage of Clemson's issues along the offensive line and create havoc in Clemson's backfield. I think they will try to force the issue and use penetration to offset Clemson's passing game. My guess is that Auburn's defense wants to be very physical and I would imagine many players are upset after allowing the Tigers 624 yards in last year's game.
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