Auburn Football 2011: What Is Expected from the New Defensive Coordinator?

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IDecember 8, 2011

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers leads his team onto the field to face the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The current Auburn defense was intended to be a complex, speed-oriented, smothering type of unit. For three years the Auburn staff has recruited players suited to this defensive scheme. The problem has never been the effectiveness of the scheme when the right plays were called.

Some are wondering what changes will occur now that Ted Roof is off to Central Florida for next season. The answer to that question is complex.

It is unlikely the defensive scheme will change as that is of Gene Chizik design. It is the form of defense he feels is best at Auburn. Three years of focused recruiting has brought the right type of athlete to execute the scheme, which is very similar to the scheme used by Southern California this season.

The focus of this defense is speed, not power. To utilize that speed, play-calling is paramount in getting the players into position to be successful. This is where the Auburn defense has failed so often over the last three years.

For those that want to see Auburn with 270-pound, power-oriented linebackers, it will not happen at Auburn any time soon. For this scheme to work a linebacker has to cover a lot of ground quickly and be able to execute pass coverage better than the average linebacker.

There must be dominant defensive tackles for this scheme to work. This is the area where size and power are paramount. Depth is also a must on the interior defensive line, which must be disruptive for the entire game.

It is unlikely that any of this will change with the new defensive coordinator. It is a time-tested scheme that has been successful at every level.

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 12:  Carlton Thomas #30 of the Georgia Bulldogs rushes between T'Sharvan Bell #22 and Eltoro Freeman #21 of the Auburn Tigers at Sanford Stadium on November 12, 2011 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What will be attempted to change is the way this scheme is utilized and the plays called to get players into position to be successful. This is the area where Auburn has failed miserably over the last three seasons.

To be successful at play-calling in the Tampa 2 scheme, a coach must understand how to utilize speed to neutralize the opposition offense. The approach will be different depending on the offensive scheme faced.

The weakness of this defensive scheme is over the middle. To cover this weakness the corners will often need to play off the line and the linebackers must provide pass coverage in the flats. Defensive backs simply can not allow themselves to be beaten inside.

Auburn has the right kind of athletes to execute this scheme to perfection. The problem has been having them in position to be successful by calling the proper play. The Auburn defense has looked like a hybrid mixture of the Tampa 2 and a power 4-3 at times during the last three seasons, but Auburn does not have the athletes needed to run a power defense.

A likely goal for the new defensive coordinator will be a coach that understands how to utilize speed to counter power. They will need to understand this defensive scheme and know what moves to make to counter the offensive scheme faced.

This is the area where the Auburn defense broke down most in the last three seasons. It was more common over the last three seasons for Auburn to line up wrong, give up points and then adjust later to stop the scheme. This often resulted in giving up a lot of points in the first quarter of games.