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Auburn 'D' is on attack

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Auburn 'D' is on attack

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Times Sports Staff pmarsh9485@msn.com

Auburn defenders won't wait for plays to come to them

AUBURN - When Will Muschamp unleashes his Auburn defense Saturday night against Washington State, Pete Jenkins will watch from afar. And he knows what to expect.

"He's aggressive," said Jenkins, who coached with Muschamp at Auburn and LSU. "And he's smart."

Mus-champ, named Auburn's defensive coordinator in February, preaches that offenses are too good for defenses to sit back and wait.

Saturday night, when No. 4 Au-burn opens its season against Washington State at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Muschamp's first Auburn defense will be put to the test.

Offensive coordinator Al Borges schemed against Muschamp's defense for 15 days of spring practice and for three weeks of preseason camp. He's seen enough to know of what Jenkins speaks.

"They don't wait for the offense to come to them," Borges said. "They make things happen more than any defense, I think, I've dealt with."

Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville says the defense won't look a lot different from the stands. But it is different. It is very different from what David Gibbs ran last season or what Gene Chizik ran the previous three.

"They are going to see multiple looks up front," senior linebacker Karibi Dede said. "They are going to see a lot of pressure. We like to really challenge the quarterback and really make it hard for him to sit and make his reads."

Sometimes, the Tigers will be in a 4-3. Sometimes it will be a 3-4. Sometimes five or even six defensive backs will be on the field. Sometimes linemen will rush and linebackers will drop into pass coverage. Sometimes linebackers will rush and linemen will drop.

The pressure will be on the secondary, where senior David Irons and junior Jonathan Wilhite will start at cornerbacks and junior Eric Brock and redshirt freshman Aairon Savage at safeties.

The days of bailing out early are over.

"It's more of an aggressive, get-in-your-face and let's play kind of defense," Brock said. "I think it fits our talent and will let everybody reach their potential."

As Auburn's defensive line coach, Jenkins was there when Muschamp began his coaching career as a graduate assistant in 1995 and 1996. Jenkins had moved to LSU when head coach Nick Saban needed a defensive coordinator after the 2001 season.

Jenkins and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, who had coached quarterbacks at Auburn, spoke in unison. Muschamp, who had finished his first season as LSU's linebackers coach, deserved a look. Saban agreed, naming Muschamp defensive coordinator.

"Nick was looking for somebody kind of young, somebody that was smart," said Jenkins, who came out of retirement this year and coaches the defensive line for the Philadelphia Eagles. "Will is one of the smartest coaches I've been around. He may be the smartest. He understands the game."

Just as Jenkins was leaving retirement in Destin, Fla., to move to Philadelphia, Muschamp was packing up to leave Miami, where he'd followed Saban, for Auburn.

Auburn's offensive players are just glad somebody else will have to deal with Muschamp's wicked brews.

"It's crazy," center Joe Cope said. "They bring so much stuff from so many different looks and use all that movement. It's real confusing. There are no words for it. Coach Muschamp is smart. He knows exactly what to do at the right time and the right place. They are going to bring heat."

Quarterback Brandon Cox says Washington State's offense, led by quarterback Alex Brink and wide receiver Jason Hill, might be in for a shock.

"I don't know how you'd adjust to it in one game," Cox said. "We've seen it all spring and all two-a-days, and we're still adjusting to it."

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