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Schmedding has Auburn playing top-10 defense


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Jeff Schmedding has Auburn playing top-10 defense since coaching change

Published: Nov. 22, 2022, 11:12 a.m.
5–7 minutes

Auburn’s coaching staff was thrown into disarray on Halloween.

Bryan Harsin and six other staff members were all fired amid the team’s 3-5 start to the season. Five of the six who were shown the door previously followed Harsin from Boise State to Auburn when he first took the job on the Plains. When the decision was made to fire Harsin, the Tigers promptly cut those Boise State ties — well, except for one.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding was the lone former Boise State staff to be retained during the process, making for a potentially uneasy situation for the 44-year-old assistant coach.

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“When you go through that, it is difficult, and we are all part of what happened, so it is difficult seeing families go through those types of things, but at the same time you have an opportunity to keep working—and keep working for these players,” Schmedding said Monday, speaking to the media for the first time since Harsin’s firing. “That is how I have looked at it. It is an opportunity to work for Coach Cadillac, and spread his message, and work for the players–same thing we talked about with the players.

“You can choose to point fingers, you can choose to split, but if you want to be successful you have to come together as a team and fight.”

While Schmedding is the last former Boise State assistant still standing on the Plains, the decision to retain him — even after cutting ties with the rest, and even after Auburn’s defense gave up more 40-point games through the first two months than it has in any single season in program history — has paid off handsomely. Auburn’s defense has undergone a midseason renaissance, with the unit turning a corner and putting up three quality performances since the shakeup within the program.

Since giving up a quick start to Mississippi State after a short week of scrambled preparation following the coaching change, Auburn’s defense has been stout. The Tigers gave up just nine second-half points against the Bulldogs while rallying back from a 21-point first-half deficit before ultimately falling in overtime. The unit was dominant in a win against Texas A&M, not allowing a point until the fourth quarter and limiting the Aggies to negative yardage in the third quarter. Auburn followed it up with a second-half shutout and suffocating effort against Western Kentucky last weekend.

“He’s been letting us just play,” defensive tackle Colby Wooden said. “He knows we’re going to make some mistakes, but he’s just letting us play. It’s nothing new. Like I said earlier, we ain’t got nothing to lose so we’re just playing. We’re just having fun playing football.”

During that stretch, the pass defense has had its best three-game span since 2019, holding each of those three offenses to fewer than 6 yards per pass attempt. The run defense, which was leaky earlier this season, has given up less than 200 yards total in those three games while limiting opponents to 2.7 yards per carry.

Auburn has also held its last three opponents to an average of 323.3 yards per game and 4.25 yards per play. That’s good for ninth nationally and best in the SEC in November. In the three games prior, opponents averaged 532.7 yards per game and 6.92 yards per play, with each scoring more than 40 points against the Tigers.

“Wow,” interim coach Cadillac Williams said. “Tip my hat to Coach Schmedding and that defense…. I think very highly of Schmedding, man. He’s a technician; he’s a teacher; he knows the game of football in and out. He can get those players to truly play for him — along with coach Roc (Bellantoni), coach (Zac) Etheridge, coach (Jimmy) Brumbaugh. Those guys are doing a really good job, man, and they’ve got those guys flying around and playing Auburn defense.

“To me, defense is about effort, getting 11 men to the ball. Whenever you do that, you create takeaways. The ball falls your way. I’m proud of Coach Schmedding and that staff for what they’re doing on defense.”

According to Schmedding, not much has changed for Auburn schematically over the last three weeks, but the defense has settled in more and refocused on personnel and playing loose. The Tigers are rotating more players throughout the lineup, which has helped keep key guys fresh deeper into games, which has been apparent with the defense’s second-half performances in recent weeks.

It has all helped Schmedding enjoy success during what could have been an uncomfortable situation.

“It has been a blessing to see those guys come together, and really just the effort and the fight that they have had,” Schmedding said. “It has been enjoyable to watch. These situations, unfortunately — I have not been in many of these, but these situations can certainly go the other way, but I think everybody has rallied around Coach Williams and his message of serve, discipline and believe. And just fight, keep fighting.

“That is really what we ask of anybody. You can quit or you can fight, and they have chosen to fight.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group.

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he deserves some props as he has done this with no depth and losing some studs we were counting on as well on the D line.

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It helps that 2 of the 3 teams we've played since Harsin was fired are below average.

Edited by dyehardfanAU
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3 minutes ago, dyehardfanAU said:

It helps that 2 of the 3 teams we've played since Harsin was fired are below average.

would we be doing this well now if harsin was retained?

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22 minutes ago, dyehardfanAU said:

Who knows?  Neither you nor I do.

that is fair but i would not bet money on harsin doing as well. my personal opinion is his schemes were too complicated for our players. several of the players say they can play now instead of having to think about it. shrugs

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1 hour ago, dyehardfanAU said:

Who knows?  Neither you nor I do.

I can say with 100% confidence a Harsin team lead team wouldn't have taken Miss State to overtime and would not have beaten Western Kentucky. And definitely not by 3 touchdowns.

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1 minute ago, tgrogan21 said:

I can say with 100% confidence a Harsin team lead team wouldn't have taken Miss State to overtime and would not have beaten Western Kentucky. And definitely not by 3 touchdowns.

That's not the question.  The question is would we have played as well defensively.  We did not play well defensively against MSU and the two teams we did had mediocre offenses.  Schmedding may be fantastic but trying to use the last 3 games to prove that is not logical.

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1 hour ago, dyehardfanAU said:

That's not the question.  The question is would we have played as well defensively.  We did not play well defensively against MSU and the two teams we did had mediocre offenses.  Schmedding may be fantastic but trying to use the last 3 games to prove that is not logical.

AFTER last weekend's game, WKU's offense is 17th overall in points per game and 8th overall in passing yardage per game. Nationally. 

 

Not exactly my definition of "mediocre"

 

edit: and yes, I do realize they play in CUSA but still not as bad as you'd lead us to believe.

Edited by banditmwp
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20 minutes ago, banditmwp said:

AFTER last weekend's game, WKU's offense is 17th overall in points per game and 8th overall in passing yardage per game. Nationally. 

 

Not exactly my definition of "mediocre"

 

edit: and yes, I do realize they play in CUSA but still not as bad as you'd lead us to believe.

Your edit is the only thing you had to say.

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He deserves credit by keeping it simple and by playing players who were not playing earlier in the season which is why we are fresher at end of game them before. Credit also goes to Caddy as he has said effort counts big time on defense. I think because of Caddy the players on both O and D are playing harder.  I doubt that Kiffen (Assuming it is true that he will be our coach) will keep Schmedding but I think the end of the season has improved his stock and another team will pick him up.  I wish him the best of luck wherever he goes.  He has shown that he has lived up to the statement he is an Auburn man.

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4 hours ago, dyehardfanAU said:

Who knows?  Neither you nor I do.

just call me aunt cleo.........

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7 minutes ago, AUY2K said:

Kiffin should come in and keep the defensive staff as is!

So, you just want to keep the current staff and just change the HC?

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