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Kevin Steele says Auburn's defense 'eager to learn'
March 7, 2016

Kevin Steele likes the look of Auburn's defense in the early part of spring drills
Kevin Steele likes the look of Auburn's defense in the early part of spring drills

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. ― Kevin Steele has come away with a favorable impression of his Auburn's defensive players after one week of spring practice.

"This has been a very eager group to learn. They've embraced what we're doing," said Auburn's new defensive coordinator.

Steele's defense is not dissimilar to the defense run by Will Muschamp, who he replaced, and he says that has made the transition easier than most.

"The dictionary is pretty similar so we've tried to keep as much of it the same as possible, which makes it friendly for the players," Steele said.

"I feel like it's from the same tree," said defensive lineman Devaroe Lawrence. "Everything feels the same, so we just learn it."

Some things they're learning are out of the most basic defensive text book. Steele said he wants his players to be a "physical dominating group that plays with relentless effort. The thing that is the most encouraging at this point over the first three days is we've got a really, really good attitude and we have really tried to play with great effort on every play. We are trying to create a culture where the other players in the group affect the guy beside them, you have to affect the people you play with. The simple version of that is if you are an older guy out there you demand the guys you play with bring effort."

Auburn will return to the practice field Tuesday. Here's some of what Steele has seen so far:

• Defensive lineman Byron Cowart: "He's a physical talent with great attitude. He's still young. Those things I talked about ― being physically dominate player, being physical, playing with great effort, he’s bought into that."

• Linebackers are "an eager group. There are actually more bodies there in terms of guys who have instincts and understand the game. They’re good students of the game. They're just young and inexperienced. We got to develop them fast, but that’s not something that has not been done before."

• Linebacker Tre Williams is "trying to be a good leader and affecting the personality, the demeanor, the way we go about things. He’s working hard to do that."

• Defensive lineman Jeff Holland is "at Buck right now, the open-side end. I knew him out of high school as a recruit, so there's some knowledge there, but as far as I’m concerned, they’re all freshmen in terms of going about it. Just haven’t practiced enough to know, but I do know that he has the physical attributes to be a player."

• Montravious Atkinson is "a very fast guy, a very energetic guy, he's physical. It's only practice, but I saw that real quickly. He's really progressing nicely."

• Defensive lineman Prince Tega Wahogho is "fun to watch because he's an athletic guy who can run real well. He's like a sponge. He hangs on every word you say. If he hears you talking to a linebacker he's listening. Sometimes I think, 'Is that going to clutter his thought process,' but I think he just wants to hear everything you want to say."



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