July 17, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
HOOVER, Ala. -- Cornerback Chris Davis was asked to name Auburn's defensive playmakers.
"Hopefully," he said, "the whole defense."
Davis and Auburn hit SEC Media Days on Wednesday endorsing new coach Gus Malzahn's approach to football. Last year's difficult season? Malzahn mentioned putting it in his "rearview mirror."
Davis says the players are following the same approach.
"The team is more bought in than last year," Davis said. "The team is more bought in to what Coach Malzahn is doing."
Leaving last year behind is a good idea for the defense considering that late in the season "we were out of position almost every snap, and it showed," Davis said. Spread teams especially frustrated the Tigers, and even the teams that ran the pro-set sped up to catch the Tigers off guard.
Out went the old defensive coordinator. In came new defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson and his 4-2-5 defense that features five in the secondary and an attacing scheme. And then there's this in Johnson's new defensive philosophy:
"He's going to line them up and let them play," Malzahn said.
"Players picked up on Coach Ellis' defense very fast," Davis said.
How can Davis tell the defense is catching on? He saw it in practice.
"If we can stop Coach Malzahn, we can stop any team we play against," Davis said.
Davis likes the new defense because Ellis has traded in one of his three linebackers for an extra safety.
"That puts more speed and athleticism on the field," Davis said.
All the while, Davis said, "the leadership has stepped up" for Malzahn.
"He's a players' coach. You can tell by the people he's brought in. Everything he does makes it feel like home."
That'll help Davis move past last year's 3-9 record.
"That's not Auburn football," he said. "We know we're better than that."
Charles Goldberg is a senior writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: