April 9, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Coach Melvin Smith is telling his cornerbacks that Auburn is going to lead the SEC in interceptions this season. Hey, why not? The Tigers are due.
Auburn, which had only two interceptions last season, is buying into Ellis Johnson's new defense, and they are gaining confidence in what Smith is telling them, says cornerback Joshua Holsey.
"Coach Smith, he tells us 'You're going to get picks this year.' He wants us to get picks no matter what. So we're going to have a good year this year," Holsey said.
Holsey and his teammates are getting few extra days to think about interceptions, and everything else, after the Tigers decided to skip a Monday practice. They'll return to their regularly scheduled practice schedule Wednesday.
Holsey said the cornerbacks have done well with the new attitude, saying they've got a fair share of interceptoins in practice. "So it's surprising that we really didn't get a lot of interceptions last year, but it's just how it rolls sometimes.
"It'll be a different story this year, I promise you that."
Sure enough, Johnson says the cornerbacks have made progress.
"We have been extremely pleased with our cornerback play overall," Johnson said. "The thing that we saw on film is they’re not extremely big guys and at times they didn’t tackle that well last year. They also went through I guess a dominoes of injuries and by the end of year a lot of the young ones were starting and some of them played very well… (Jonathan) Jones, Holsey, some of those guys.
"I think Melvin’s certainly addressing it and knows how to teach it. We’ve already had about four or five picks in live situations and I know three of them have been by our corners."
All the while, the cornerbacks are trying to keep up with the fast-paced offense.
"You're going to get tired from that tempo. It's really fast," Holsey said. "They try to speed it up after every first down. You've just got to get in shape and be ready for it. It's just really mental toughness. You've got to be able to fight through it and just try to get three-and-outs. The more three-and-outs, the better."
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