Auburn Spring in summary: defensive line, edge defenders

The first period of practice of Bryan Harsin The era is officially in the rearview mirror, as the Tigers came full circle last Monday.

Auburn staff are now looking forward to June, not only for summer training and the arrival of a few other parts in Harsin’s 2021 class, but also for the end of the recruiting deadlines on June 1. Auburn will be authorized to receive official visitors to its campus. for the first time since March 2020. The program has already scheduled a number of football camps this summer following the NCAA lifting of the time-out. But in the meantime, football will reach a hiatus in the Plains as players finish the semester in school, then take about a month’s hiatus from team activities until they are back in the game. weight room this summer.

With a team of freshman coaches, Auburn’s 15 spring practices in 2021 felt different from those in the later years of the Gus Malzahn time. While an established staff will simply pick up where they left off from the year before, Harsin and Auburn’s new coaches are focusing this spring on assessing and understanding their players – their skills, individual aspirations and their place in the list, with all job groups except one (half-runners) working under a new coaching position.

Of course, playbooks have been installed and new attack and defense programs have been put in place, but the focus has been on players who just feel comfortable with their new coaches and what to do with them. will be requested in 2021.

And after a month of training, Auburn’s coaches feel they have a much stronger understanding of where their players are than they did in January, say.

So what did Auburn learn about each job group this spring? Auburn Undercover will take a closer look and summarize the spring of each position. Then there are the defensive fronts, tackles and edge rushers.

POST-SPRING DEPTH CHART

DEFENSIVE END

DEFENSIVE TACLE

DEFENSIVE TACLE

EDGE

It’s a new era on the defensive front at Auburn – with eight years as a defensive line coach Rodney Garner, with Nick Eason, who coached or played in the NFL every year, with the exception of one since 2003.

Garner has done well to maintain Auburn’s tradition of dominant defensive linemen during his time with the program. The closet isn’t empty for Eason, but he’s a little green – a lot of second-year transfers and second-year JUCOs, with the exception of players like Truesdell and Hall – huge leaders in their respective groups.

Eason worked closely with Bert watts, who coaches Auburn’s top runners with his duties as special teams coordinator. Pass-rushers float between the two coaches’ instructions in practice, and Eason and Watts also spend a lot of time together off the field; their offices are located next to each other in the football complex. Eason said they would occasionally wrestle in the hallway after meetings.

Of course, the assistant coaches’ job this spring has been to align their respective groups with the new coordinator. Derek masonthe predictions of his defense. Much has been said about Mason making the transition to Auburn from his base 4-2-5 under Kevin steele to a 3-4.

But it’s more complex than that; Throughout the spring ball, Auburn’s defensive front flashed a variety of backgrounds in order to utilize situational personnel and bring in blitzes from all angles. Most often in the spring game, the Tigers lined up in a 2-4-5, which consisted of two hand-in-the-dirt linemen with two edge defenders, two standard linebackers and five defensive backs.

This is where the eclectic skills of Auburn’s defensive front come in.

“I think the versatility of the front seven, ok man, is going to be huge for us just in terms of speed, size, athleticism and trying to create one-on-one showdowns,” Mason said this spring. “To me it’s true. Now I’m like a child in a Candy shop. “

On paper, before spring started, we knew Mason was going to have a handful of guys up front who could slide into multiple positions. Starting from the defensive side, Wooden is a good example. The leader in tackles for loss to Auburn in his freshman season in the red shirt last year, Wooden’s growth from arriving on campus (239 pounds) to now (278) has been on a par stunning and useful for Tigers’ versatility up front.

He and a player like Burks have the physique and size to play indoors in the 2-4-5, but also have some sleight of hand as old defenses end earlier in their careers. Butler, a former JUCO product who came out on top at the end of last season, and Walker, the second highest-rated signatory in the 2020 Auburn class behind Bigsby Reservoir, are used in the same way.

Foster-Allen envisions a bigger role late in defense this season after injury sidelined him for his entire true first year. He was a normal participant for most of the spring workouts, but he showed up to A-Day with his left arm in a sling.

At 6-2, 335 pounds, Truesdell, a fifth-year senior, is the leader among anchor, interior-only defensive tackles. Wright, a former offensive line signing, was emerging as a possible breakout player in that squad before tearing up his ACL in the first scrum of the spring.

To help replace some depth after the injury, Pegues moved from the tight end to the defensive line. He said he played a game in high school but never inside the D line, so Auburn is patient with his development.

“I feel like he’s already explosive,” Wooden said of Pegues. “These are just the fundamentals, which everyone has to work on. … He already has the physical part as we have seen.”

Hunter, a four-star freshman from Mobile, Alabama, had perhaps the best spring among Auburn’s top six registrants. His physicality was on display early on, he showed strong progress over the four weeks of training, and he finished things off with a few notable plays in the Spring Game, including blowing up the starting offensive line and dragging Bigsby into the game. the backfield on a fourth. -and 1.

“He’s a great athlete”, senior security Smoke Monday Hunter said after A-Day. “I feel like he has a lot of advantages for him. He’s quick on the ball. He’s good at pushing the stack and creating a new line of scrimmage – he’s very good at it. on the whole, I have a feeling he’s gonna help us a lot this year.

Hardy, one of Auburn’s top defensive rookies in his 2020 class, also has plenty of physical tools and served as DT’s second team this spring before being one of six players not in the spring game.

In Watts Hall, the outside linebackers are divided into two groups – the edge rushers and the STUD linebackers. Watts explained that there isn’t much of a difference between the two and it’s more what a player is asked to do on a given game rather than a roster position designation. An edge rusher is just that – a dedicated pass-rusher that gets up and chases the quarterback, while a STUD (“stand-up defender”) will cover the horizontal space by falling back into a shallow blanket or chasing. a rear rear.

Hall, who finished last season strong with four sacks in the last five games, was “Mr. Consistency” for Watts this spring, showing he can take on all the responsibilities of an edge defender with a transition. transparent. He’s a bulky presence in the passing game, but he also backed down, put his hands on his knees, and played second level defense a few times during the spring game.

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Moultry, who is also enjoying a year of free eligibility and playing a second senior season, was working early against Hall with the starters when the Tigers went to 2-4-5, but missed two scrimmages in the spring, including A-Day.

Without Moultry or Handy at the Spring Game for reasons undisclosed by Harsin, Johnson, Curtis and Height occupied the rest of the shots in the edge position. Johnson has added weight this offseason and can play defense as well, while Curtis and Height are slimmer and faster.

Auburn will receive an influx of depth coins (five new defensive linemen, to be exact) this fall when the 2021 class arrives in full, and a few additions – like the four-star edge rusher and 2021 top-rated rookie in Auburn, Dylan Brooks, and Northwestern defensive transfer Eku Leota – could be talented enough to make waves along the defensive front right away.

SPRING SERIES SUMMARY

Quarterback

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive line


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Harold Shirley

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