Coordinator Will Muschamp, left, and secondary coach Travaris Robinson have brought energy to Auburn's defense
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- New Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp won the hearts and minds of his players in spring practice, if not before.
"We still have a long ways to go, but as far as the attitude and the buy-in, we've got a good core of guys working extremely hard. That's huge in order to have a really good football team. Work ethic has to be a part of it," Muschamp said Tuesday in wrapping up spring practice.
Praised for his intensity by Auburn defensive and offensive players alike, Muschamp sent a message early: Run to the ball and tackle in bunches. His players liked his spirit from the beginning. To wit:
· "He brings that whole intensity. He makes sure our effort is great," said defensive back Rudy Ford.
· "Coach Muschamp... you can definitely tell he brings a different dynamic to the defense as far as the urgency in everything we do and really the pride of playing defense," said linebacker Kris Frost.
· "He's fun to be around. He makes football fun. It's back to how it used to be, which it's fun to be in practice," said defensive lineman Dontavius Russell.
· "You try not to get on Coach Muschamp's bad side. You try to do everything perfect. You do that, you're on his good side," said new defensive lineman Maurice Swain.
Three new coaches helped reshape Auburn's defense: Muschamp, secondary coach Travaris Robinson and linebacker coach Lance Thompson.
"I feel like we've made some strides from an effort and finishing standpoint, but I think we've practiced the right way, and I think that's a huge part of it," he said. "We've had very physical practices."
Muschamp can name names, too, even the ones who were limited in spring practice because of injuries.
He called DeVonte Lambert a good leader and said he's ready for Carl Lawson to be "able to go full-time," and said both "can really positively affect" his defensive. "To get those guys back would be really exciting."
They're part of a potentially loaded defensive line that includes Russell, Swain, Montravius Adams, Devaroe Lawrence, Elijah Daniel and Gimel President, who is otherwise headed to the new Buck position.
"I told our defense that in the front seven we have some great competition," Muschamp said. "It's going to be a lot of fun in the fall as far as guys that are competing for playing time and competing to start and understanding about being a part of that rotation up front. We have a lot of competition up front, so that makes my job a lot easier, especially in the summer.
"Then we're going to have to have some freshmen to come in and help us as far as those things, especially with pass rush."
Auburn has experience at linebacker in Frost and Cassanova McKinzy. Muschamp said Tre Williams had a good spring and is ready to join them.
"All three of those guys showed the capability to start at linebacker here at Auburn and I'll throw in there Justin Garrett from the standpoint of a guy that had a tremendous six days and had an unfortunate situation with his ankle."
The secondary was thin in the spring.
"Certainly, some young players would have their opportunity in the fall," Muschamp said.
Muschamp was still looking for depth as spring ended. He smiled when asked who his third safety would be.
"You're looking at him," he said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine