After watching the defensive performance of the Auburn Tigers against a very promising Clemson team, a closer look at some factors seemed necessary.
This Auburn staff has now led the Auburn defense for 30 games. After going back and looking at the defensive scheme in all 30 of those games, some bizarre facts leap out.
The first and most important fact for Auburn fans is that the current defensive woes are not centered around inexperienced or untalented players. One thing that is clear, after looking closely at this season, is that the players are progressing very well.
The truth is that the defensive woes at Auburn are quite easily fixed and have nothing to do with the players at any position. The one position that seemed to be behind, the defensive tackles, showed substantial improvement against Clemson.
What is wrong with the Auburn defense?
In a bizarre turn of events, it appears that there is some kind of staff meltdown behind the failure of the Tigers defense. It is apparently the same kind of meltdown Auburn fans remember during the first part of the 2009 season that seemed to have ended for good with the Ole Miss game.
The problem might have reared its ugly head again against an inferior Arkansas State team last season, but seemed quickly put to rest by the Mississippi State game. As bizarre as it might seem, there seems to be an obvious answer to this inept performance of the Chizik defensive staff in those games.
Looking closely at all of the games orchestrated by Chizik’s staff, it actually appears either the defensive play-calling is being done by a person suffering from bipolar disorder or that two different people have been calling plays. There really is a day-and-night difference in the play-calling style in several games.
So far in 2011, only the passive style of play-calling has been evident on the field. This is the style responsible for allowing an offensively inept LSU team 31 points in 2009 and allowing Arkansas to score at will in a shameful loss in Fayetteville the same year.
The same style has been evident for portions of most Auburn games, but was countered by a more aggressive style at key points during the game. This aggressive intervention has been largely absent for the 2011 season.
One thing is glaringly obvious: The staff inclination that has led to positioning the Auburn defense into a soft zone scheme in the red zone is responsible for placing young Auburn players in a position to fail miserably.
In fact, the amazement of the entire nation as it watched Auburn playing soft zone coverage, with time running out in a losing effort at Clemson, is evidence of incompetence in this area.
The fact that a very talented Auburn defense is ranked 117 in the nation just behind UAB, Northern Illinois and New Mexico is proof positive that the Auburn defensive staff has performed at an incompetent level for the first three games of the 2011 season.
The defensive fix is simple and will be immediately effective once implemented.
No matter who is calling the defensive plays, which have made the Auburn defense look like an underperforming high school team, the responsibility falls directly at the feet of Coach Chizik. It is his responsibility to make the necessary staff adjustments that will put the Auburn players in the best position to succeed on the field.
College football is a chess match between coaching staffs.
Auburn has consistently held its own or won the match on offense and special teams. The defensive effort has looked pedestrian and amateurish with teams like Utah State having dominated the strategic scheme of the game.