The defensive depth chart for the 2011 version of the Auburn Tigers is a very definite signal of change.
Until this season, the Auburn defense has been playing with players recruited for the defense Tommy Tuberville preferred. While many of these players were very good, this season begins a new era.
Reportedly it has been the goal of this defensive staff to run a multiple defense from day one. The problem with that is the players required are diametrically opposed when compared to the players needed for the defense Tommy Tuberville preferred to run.
The first big difference is defensive line depth.
For a multiple defense to work, a team must have superior depth at every defensive line position.
These players must also meet a certain physical profile to be equipped to handle the increased responsibility. In essence, in a multiple defense the defensive line takes on some of the roles traditionally passed off to the linebackers.
This extra responsibility requires a defensive line that is not only able to stuff the middle against the run, but stop the run from bouncing outside. They have to play dominant enough to collapse the pocket and get quick pressure on the quarterback. Simply containing play within the pocket is not a good option in this scheme.
Recruiting for this type of scheme is difficult as the players need to be tall and lightening quick to play defensive end and tall, heavy and athletic to play defensive tackle.
A larger number of these types of players are required to maintain a rotation to keep these large guys fresh.
In essence it requires four large dominant defensive tackles and four tall rangy defensive ends to be able to pull this scheme off. What are the benefits of this scheme?
Running the multiple schemes allow for the use of smaller, faster linebackers that can cover more ground more quickly.
It can also allow the nickel set, which replaces one linebacker with a defensive back, to become a primary set even during what is normally considered rushing downs.
In passing downs the defensive tackles can be replaced with quicker defensive ends to allow for a quicker pass rush or, only three down linemen can be utilized to allow for an extra defensive back or linebacker. It makes a defense very hard to prepare for.
LSU has used various forms of a multiple defense since Bo Pelini was the defensive coordinator before going to Nebraska. Nebraska uses a multiple defense as well.
These defenses have proved very effective against the spread offenses while still maintaining effectiveness against traditional pro-set offenses. It has proved much more effective than shifting to a 3-4 primary defense in both cases.
All appearances indicate that Auburn is moving in this direction with their defensive scheme. Expect to see Auburn in a 4-3 base, 4-2-5 base, 3-4 base and a 3-3-5 base according to the circumstances dictated by the opposition offense in the future.
Pass defense should see a huge improvement from this scheme and big offensive impact plays should be limited.
Starter: Ken Carter 6’4” 290 pounds
2: Devaunte Sigler 6’4” 275 pounds
2: Gabe Wright 6’3” 316 pounds
Starter: Jeffrey Whitaker 6’4” 312 pounds
2: Angelo Blackson 6’4” 325 pounds
2: Jamar Travis 6’0” 294 pounds
Weak Side Defensive End
Starter: Corey Lemonier 6’4” 240 pounds
2: Dee Ford 6’3” 245 pounds
3: Ladarius Owens 6’2” 237 pounds
Strong Side Defensive End
Starter Nosa Eguae 6’3” 258 pounds
2: Craig Sanders 6’4” 260 pounds
3: Justin Delaine 6’5” 238 pounds
(Note: There is more than ample depth on the defensive line to be successful running a multiple defense.)
Not as much depth is needed at the linebacker positions when running a multiple defense. At times the defensive line is tasked with some traditional linebacker responsibilities and at other times an extra defensive back is utilized in place of a linebacker.
Starter: Jake Holland 6’1” 235 pounds
1: ElToro Freeman 5’11” 228 pounds
Starter: Jonathan Evans 5’11” 225 pounds
2; Justin Garrett 6’1” 205 pounds
Starter: Daren Bates 5’11” 205 pounds
2: Harris Gaston 6’2” 236 pounds
Speed is absolutely essential for a defensive back in a multiple defensive scheme. Quality depth is required at every defensive back position to pull these schemes off.
Starter: Neiko Thorpe 6’3” 195 pounds
2: Erique Florence 6’1” 187 pounds
3: Drew Cole 5’11” 190 pounds
Starter: Demetruce McNeal 6’2” 193 pounds
2: Ryan Smith 6’2” 208 pounds
3: Ikeem Means 6’0” 205 pounds
Left Side Corner
Starter: Chris Davis 5’11” 188 pounds
2: Jonathon Mincy 5’10” 180 pounds
3: Robenson Therezie 5’9” 192 pounds
Right Side Corner
Starter: T’Sharvan Bell 6’0” 185 pounds
2: Ryan White 5’11” 192 pounds
3: Jonathon Rose 6’2” 185 pounds
Starter: T’Sharvan Bell
2: Jermaine Whitehead 5’11” 183 pounds
3: Trent Fisher 6’1” 186 pounds
It is very evident that this group of defensive backs has speed to burn and is a very deep group. Experience is not something they are overly equipped with to start the season.