Auburn's Will Muschamp welcomes Markell Boston back to the sidelines at practice
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Will Muschamp says his freshmen defensive players are coming along nicely and could be a factor this season.
Thank you for asking.
"Absolutely," said Auburn's defensive coordinator Tuesday. "I think the young secondary guys — Jeremiah Dinson, Carlton Davis, Javaris Davis — are all guys that have exhibited the ability to play on the edges in the Southeastern Conference."
Muschamp didn't stop there, saying freshman defensive end Byron Cowart "has done some nice things for us. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to contribute." And linebacker Darrell Williams "is a guy I've been excited about." And linebacker "Richard McBryde is going to be a good player in time."
"Richard’s done some nice things, so there’s no question that those guys certainly have the potential, and some other guys, too. We’re very pleased with where we are."
Auburn's defense has plenty of veterans, but the Tigers need depth, particularly in the secondary. Muschamp is entertaining all possibilities.
"We're constantly mixing and matching personnel to put guys in different situations. As a staff, we talk in terms of a guy going down, not necessarily that he’s hurt, but we’re going to pull him out and a guy has got to go step up in the middle of a series. Those are things we've prescribed as a staff to stress our players a little bit, and they got to understand when their number’s called, they got to play well."
Muschamp was buoyed by the defense's performance in Monday's scrimmage. Muschamp said the defense did "some nice things," one day after Gus Malzahn said the defense dominated the scrimmage.
"As much as anything we had some good focus and good effort," Muschamp said. "We tackled well for the first scrimmage, I think we had 12 missed tackles in 90-something snaps, so that’s a positive for a first scrimmage, especially as much as our offense creates space plays.
"We played well on third down and we played well in the red zone. We didn’t play the run very well and that was extremely disappointing."
Muschamp said the defense allowed "five big runs" and running plays averaged more than four yards.
"I'm extremely concerned about that, especially in our league. But, overall, I was pleased with some good hits and turnovers and tackles and those sort of things. I thought we communicated well."
Malzahn praised the play of defensive lineman Carl Lawson, who missed last season after knee surgery. Muschamp likes him, too.
"He's a good football player. He's a fast-twitch body guy," Muschamp said.
Muschamp did a little more name-dropping…
• On defensive lineman DaVonte Lambert:
"I'm very pleased with him. It's always tough, more than anything -- confidence coming back off an injury like that from a guy that's never had a major injury before."
• There was more praise for defensive lineman.
"Montravius Adams did a nice job. Dontavius Russell played well."
And, of course, Carl Lawson, who Malzahn said was "unblockable" in the scrimmage.
"Maurice Swain had his best scrimmage since I've been here. We've got to have a bunch in this league.
"I've got a lot of confidence in."
Muschamp said Raashed Kennion "is a guy that's showed us some pass rush and has been a guy that we've been excited about. But I've been pretty pleased in the run game for the most part."
• Muschamp said a couple of linebackers stood out.
"Cassanova McKinzy had a very good scrimmage. Justin Garrett continues to play well. Those are the guys that jump out at me right now."
• Muschamp said safety and newcomer Tim Irvin "has played well. It's just consistency in his performance for a young player."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine