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'Improving on defense': Auburn DBs grabbing interceptions
Sept. 26, 2014

Interceptions, sure, but Jonathon Mincy can make a tackle for a loss, too

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala.  Jonathan Jones says he was just doing what the coaches had preached: Never give up on the play.
"You never know what will happen," he said. 
The cornerback didn't give up in Auburn's last game, so when a pass bounced off the hands of Kansas State receiver Tyler Lockett, Jones happily caught it in the end zone to kill another drive.
Auburn has six interceptions in three games, and will be looking for more in Saturday's 3 p.m. homecoming game in Jordan-Hare Stadium on the SEC Network.
The Tigers are continuing to distance themselves from the 2012 interception near-drought that produced only two such takeaways, and only one by a defensive back. Things changed last year when the new coaching staff said catching wayward passes was OK. Auburn had 13 interceptions last year, and is well ahead of that pace this season.

"It means guys know where they’re supposed to be," Jones said. "They’re getting into their alignments and doing their job. It also helps the front. Anytime you can cover and the front’s doing a good job getting pressure on people. That makes them put the ball in the air when they don’t want to. It’s a testament to the front’s play and the secondary."
"We talk every week about improving on defense. Obviously, we did it, but we also made mistakes. We definitely got better. It was a game for us on the road in a hostile environment. We were able to get better and that was a good improvement."
Jones had an interception, but also two pass interference penalties. 
“Coach always says 'play the next play,' so after each play, it’s not on my mind." 
That fits in his thinking of "corners are naturally competitive versus wide receiver. Any chance you get to say 'I beat you man-to-man,' that’s always fun." Jones turned away K-State at the goal line in what turned out to be a one-touchdown game.
Auburn held Kansas State to 40 yards rushing, but it was the defensive backs who seemed to take center stage this week.
A sampling: 
Jones on safety Josh Holsey, the SEC defensive player of the week, who switched from cornerback to safety two days before the game to replace Jermaine Whitehead:
"He did well. He made the calls he needed to make. I don’t remember him missing any calls when I was out there. It was simple for him. He’s been there before. No issues; no nervousness. It was just a walk in the park for him."
Jones on Rudy Ford, who was recruited as a running back: "He’s fast; everybody knows that. He flies to the football. If you didn’t know, by some of his hits, you'd think he’s always played defense."
Gus Malzahn on receiver-turned-defensive back Trovon Reed, who had the other interception at Kansas State (and had this story written about him):  "Anytime you’ve got a guy that has been on the offensive side for as long as he has, a lot of times he’ll know what’s coming before it’s coming. I think that will really help him and I think you’ve already seen that it has helped him in certain situations. He’s off to a very good start and I feel like the more experience he gets out there the more comfortable he will be. Anytime you change positions there is nothing better than Saturday to get better and feel more comfortable."

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson also recounted how Auburn, at one point, used four defensive backs who had not played a single defensive snap at Auburn last season.

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



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