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Auburn linebackers more confident heading into season

Aug. 18, 2014

JaViere Mitchell and Kenny Flowers surround Devrin Young in Knxoville

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala.  Linebacker JaViere Mitchell says Auburn's defense will be better.

"One hundred percent better," he says.

Mitchell says that's because Auburn better understands the scheme of things set forth by Ellis Johnson in his second year as the defensive coordinator. Year One was a learning experience for everybody. Even Johnson has said the Tigers' may have tried to do too much defensively last season.

"We know all the plays now. We have everybody on the same page," Mitchell said. "That’s something we really didn’t have before and that was because of being in a new situation again. Now everybody is together. We are TNT and ready to take on anybody.

"We feel more confident heading into each of our SEC teams on our schedule because we have now hunkered down the defense. We know everything we have to do. We have goals now and everybody is fighting for a position. The competition is very high. You’ve got to be ready."

Mitchell is a backup linebacker, mostly in the middle to Cassanova McKinzy, but also to the outside to Kris Frost. Also in the linebacker mix are Anthony Swain, Tre' Williams, Cameron Toney and A-Day defensive MVP Kenny Flowers. Frost says he likes the mix.

"We have different guys coming in and out and being able to not miss a beat and not miss calls and making sure we’re on track with everything," he said.

As for Mitchell, "I’m ready to contribute to the team as much as possible."

Johnson said Mitchell "physically has the skill set to be that third linebacker. He's got a good familiarity with our system." But he lost time to a foot injury that kept him out of spring practice, and he still has to make up for that lost time, Johnson said.

Mitchell has been slowed by injuries during his Auburn career. "It’s rough bouncing back from injuries and being injury-prone, but, at the same time, it’s adversity that I have to face. My teammates and the coaching staff and the training staff helped me through it. I have become a lot better player for it."

He wants to play at 226, which is what he weighed a few years ago. He's checking in at 215 these days.

"Right now, this is a pretty good weight for moving side to side, especially against most of our opponents we play this year."

Mitchell knows the veterans can play. He also said he likes the likes of new linebacker Tre' Williams.

"Tre' is explosive. He’s a guy that is always around the ball. He knows how to hit," Mitchell said. "He has been at the linebacker position for so long that his eyes are natural. He’s going to be a really good player, especially in the SEC."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:
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