By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - The quarterback of the defense, senior linebacker Tre' Williams assessed an unusual offensive formation in Auburn's second scrimmage and quickly signaled to a teammate to adjust accordingly.
Problem was, Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Tuesday, the Tigers had not yet installed that adjustment this preseason, so the freshman defensive back behind Williams was unsure of the meaning of Tre's signal.
"We hadn't gotten to that installation yet. It went in yesterday," Steele said. "He was about three days ahead on the installation."
What a difference a year makes for Auburn's linebacker corps, which returns four seasoned veterans in Tre' and Darrell Williams, Deshaun Davis and Montavious Atkinson. Sophomore Richard McBryde is emerging, while several freshmen are making a push for playing time.
"It's amazing. In one year, that wasn't the question," Steele said. "I wouldn't say it's crowded because I don't think you can have enough good players. He [McBryde] has really grasped the concepts of the defense. He's playing extremely hard. He's confident and is getting the respect of his teammates in terms of his play."
Steele referred to Auburn's defense as a "work in progress," expressing appreciation for the unit's effort as preseason reaches the midpoint.
"They've come to work every day, responsive in terms of having a good attitude, good work ethic, good leadership, and obviously we've tried to press them and put them in situations as much as we could to make it as difficult as we can on them to prepare for the season.
"They have responded in a big way and I think that is a credit to the leadership of guys like Tre' Williams, Tray Matthews, Stephen Roberts, Dontavius Russell, Marlon Davidson. There are a lot of guys who really have good leadership."
Jamel Dean: 'The happiest I've been'
Projected as a starter at cornerback before a knee injury last year in preseason camp, sophomore Jamel Dean is fully recovered and eager to make an impact.
"To be a dominant player and do his job," Steele said of his expectation for the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Dean. "Playing corner is a hard job. He's long, he's physical. If he gets in front of you and gets his hands on you, he can make that clock that the quarterback has be affected by how the guy released off him, and mess up the timing of the route combinations. He's really, really good at that because he is so long and strong, and he's really, really smart."
"Camp's been going good for me," Dean said. "I've been getting better as each day goes by. It was a difficult time for me [last year] knowing that I had to suffer through that injury again. But I put that behind me and now I'm just continuing where I left off last year. The first day of fall camp, that was probably the happiest I've been in a long time."
Ian Shannon wins punting job
Ian Shannon learned Tuesday morning he was the winner of Auburn's punting competition.
"It means the world," Shannon said. "[Coach Malzahn] wanted to see what the best option was and it was a good competition every day. Everybody brought their A game. It means the world to me that I got the job."
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) August 15, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer