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secondary best 'in a long time'

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Josh Holsey believes Auburn's secondary will be best Tigers have had 'in a long time'

Tom Green | tgreen@al.com

Josh Holsey won't be playing for Greg Brown, but the former Auburn defensive back did have a message for the Tigers' new secondary coach recently.

Despite Auburn losing two starters in Holsey and nickel corner Rudy Ford, Holsey told Brown that he's taking over a "great" room of players this spring as he takes over for former defensive backs coach Wesley McGriff.

"He walked into a room full of diamonds," Holsey said. "All he's going to do is make them shine. He's going to make them better than what they already are."

Auburn returns six players in the defensive backfield who started at least one game last season, including mainstays at safety in Tray Matthews and Stephen Roberts, as well as cornerback Carlton Davis. Those three combined for 31 starts last season and are expected to maintain their starting positions in 2017.

Auburn also brings back veteran safety Nick Ruffin, who started three games in 2016, redshirt sophomore cornerback Javaris Davis (five starts last season) and nickel corner Daniel Thomas, who started the Sugar Bowl after a stellar showing in the Iron Bowl after Ford exited the game with an ankle injury. The Tigers also return redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Dinson, who appeared in nine games with one start in 2015 before tearing three ligaments in his knee and dislocating his shoulder against Texas A&M.

RELATED: Holsey's message to NFL teams: 'Turn on the film'

When asked which returning player he likes to step up next season, Holsey couldn't give just one name.

"I like everybody in this secondary," Holsey said. "... Just the work we put in and those guys, they came in talented, each one of them, so he's got that whole room," Holsey said. "It's hard to pick just one guy, because if I say one guy, I'm going to say another guy. I would say the whole room, because every one of those guys are going to be great."

Holsey's praise for Auburn's secondary next season didn't stop there, however. The former Tiger, who spent five seasons on the Plains, believes Auburn's secondary next season will be the program's best "in a long time."

That means an improvement on what the group accomplished last year with McGriff during defensive coordinator Kevin Steele's first season at the helm.

 

What safety Tray Matthews needs to improve on before his senior season

What safety Tray Matthews needs to improve on before his senior season

Tray Matthews has accomplished a lot on a personal level in his college career.

 

In 2016, Auburn's defense gave up 229.2 passing yards per game, which ranked 67th nationally and was the second-best effort since Gus Malzahn became head coach despite a slight regression from 2015. The Tigers also ranked 22nd nationally in pass efficiency defense (116.83), which was the team's best showing since 2009 (114.99).

Although the team ranked 58th nationally with just 11 interceptions on the season, Auburn finished sixth in the nation in total passes defended (80) and tied for third in pass breakups (69).

"They'll probably have the best secondary that Auburn's had in a long time this upcoming year," Holsey said. "I truly think that. Even with me being gone and everything we lost, I still believe that will be the best secondary we've had in a long time."

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Of course he would say that..I don't feel confident at all about the secondary.

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Did you feel confident in them last year? I mean, if so, a lack of confidence now makes absolutely zero sense.

I'll go ahead and throw my vote in with Holsey. I think the secondary is going to be really good next year. I'm less confident after next season, but I like the three Seniors at Safety. Matthews is an NFL-caliber Safety. He has holes in his game, but he's a draft-worthy guy already. Roberts has had flashes of being really good. He was slow coming out of the gate post-suspension last year but played better ball down the stretch. If he puts it together, that's the best Safety combo we've had in a while. Ruffin is a consistent player that can back up either spot. Suffice it to say, those guys will not hold back the defense.

I'm more excited about the CBs. Carlton Davis is better than what he put on film last year. I expect a guy like that to bounce back. It was a classic sophomore slump. You see it all the time. Heck, you saw it in Tuscaloosa last year with Ridley. Same deal. Both guys are too talented not to bounce back. If that happens (and again I'm very confident it will), the whole secondary takes a major step forward. Add Jeremiah Dinson back into the fold with Javaris Davis? That's a great mix of CB talent. We haven't even gotten to Dean (last year's projected starter before his injury) or young guys stepping up (Character, Thomas, and maybe one of these true freshmen).

Call it sunshine if you like, but I think the talent level is really high in that secondary. Now that talent has a lot of good experience plus a second year in the same system. There is a lot of reason to expect this group to excel.

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8 hours ago, mcgufcm said:

Did you feel confident in them last year? I mean, if so, a lack of confidence now makes absolutely zero sense.

I'll go ahead and throw my vote in with Holsey. I think the secondary is going to be really good next year. I'm less confident after next season, but I like the three Seniors at Safety. Matthews is an NFL-caliber Safety. He has holes in his game, but he's a draft-worthy guy already. Roberts has had flashes of being really good. He was slow coming out of the gate post-suspension last year but played better ball down the stretch. If he puts it together, that's the best Safety combo we've had in a while. Ruffin is a consistent player that can back up either spot. Suffice it to say, those guys will not hold back the defense.

I'm more excited about the CBs. Carlton Davis is better than what he put on film last year. I expect a guy like that to bounce back. It was a classic sophomore slump. You see it all the time. Heck, you saw it in Tuscaloosa last year with Ridley. Same deal. Both guys are too talented not to bounce back. If that happens (and again I'm very confident it will), the whole secondary takes a major step forward. Add Jeremiah Dinson back into the fold with Javaris Davis? That's a great mix of CB talent. We haven't even gotten to Dean (last year's projected starter before his injury) or young guys stepping up (Character, Thomas, and maybe one of these true freshmen).

Call it sunshine if you like, but I think the talent level is really high in that secondary. Now that talent has a lot of good experience plus a second year in the same system. There is a lot of reason to expect this group to excel.

I didn't feel confident in the secondary as a whole last year either. Really I forgot what jeremiah dinson could do and didn't think about Dean. I believe in Carlton Davis and others have shown flashes but we got drugg in some games last year. I just want them to improve on consistency and hopefully Dean can be the guy to combat the mike williams-type receivers next season or someone else, who knows?

Edited by WFE12

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What would really make the secondary good is if the Dline and LBs put pressure on the opponents QB the entire game.  Carlton Davis got picked on a little last year and he's our best player back there.  If the defense can be close to last year then this Auburn team will be ok.  The defense didn't cost Auburn 5 games last year. 

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10 hours ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Like the sunshine here but AU needs some players to step up at safety for this to become a reality. So far that hasn't happened. 

giphy.gif

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10 hours ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

Like the sunshine here but AU needs some players to step up at safety for this to become a reality. So far that hasn't happened. 

giphy.gif

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To be fair, "best in a long time" basically only means "better than last year", because last year they were better than they have been since, what, 2007? And they were a lot better last year, but they still weren't great. 

If he had said "best in the SEC" or something like that, then I'd be a little embarrassed. 

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13 hours ago, Win4AU said:

What would really make the secondary good is if the Dline and LBs put pressure on the opponents QB the entire game.  Carlton Davis got picked on a little last year and he's our best player back there.  If the defense can be close to last year then this Auburn team will be ok.  The defense didn't cost Auburn 5 games last year. 

No it didn't. 

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15 hours ago, WarDamnEagleWDE said:

 

 

 

This is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time.

I feel like I'm watching an Xman. 

Edited by Randman5000

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We will see when we start playing for real in the fall.

 

wde

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We were pretty thin in the secondary during some special Tuberville years...like 04.  Hopefully we stay healthy.

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