Will Muschamp is at the ready during Auburn's preseason practice Thursday
y By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― For all the excitement, for all the buildup by the Auburn faithful, Will Muschamp says he won't measure his success on defensive stats when the season is done.
Instead, he'll use this:
"Just winning the SEC" will be his measure, Auburn's new defensive coordinator said Thursday, because that championship will likely put the Tigers in the running for the national title.
"It's always been about winning for me."
Muschamp said a 3-0 win is as good as "if you win 41-40."
"It really is, and I know people don’t think I think that way, but I do. It's about winning games and doing what you go to do to win games."
Auburn is in the preliminary stage of working that way. The Tigers completed their third preseason practice Thursday, their first in shoulder pads. They'll be in full uniform for the first time Saturday.
So far, Muschamp said, "I'm somewhat pleased, I guess, with where we are. Not enough consistency mentally, physically."
Muschamp said Auburn has worked with the young players, and the veterans in "split-squad practices to maximize reps, to maximize teaching, which I think is outstanding for the players.
"The second practice is a little slower pace because of teaching, which it should be, but it's the same script, the same practice. There's not a punishment to go in that group. It just comes down to reps and you want to get guys as many turns and reps. Instead of having 15 guys in a line, you've got eight and those seven in the afternoon are getting quality, quality reps and if you do an entire unit sometimes it gets hard to get all those guys the reps they need."
Overall, he said, "I'm somewhat pleased, I guess, with where we are. Not enough consistency mentally, physically."
The freshmen were on campus working out a long time, most arriving in May, and long before preseason practice began Tuesday.
"This is the earliest, because of the school calendar, than anywhere I've ever been," Muschamp said. "That's a huge benefit for them because they get an entire two months of training before this."
Muschamp said he won't be afraid to play his young players.
"We're going to do what we have to do to win games," he said. "Check our track record at Florida — we played some freshmen down there and they were pretty good. They were real good. So I don’t worry about that."
The freshmen could provide depth, especially in the secondary.
"The further your position is away from the ball, the easier it is to play as a freshman because your athleticism takes over more than it does when you're playing defensive tackle," Muschamp said. "It's a much faster, bigger, complex game inside. It’s easier ― I'm not saying it's easy, none of this is easy — but I'm saying if you want to play wide out or running back as a freshman or an instinctive position as opposed to playing on the offensive line or defensive tackle or playing linebacker.
"We've played a lot of freshman where we’ve been and we've been successful."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine