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Building trust: Auburn's playing rotation has its benefits
Auburn's Nick Ruffin sees the big picture on his role on the Tigers
Sept. 30, 2016

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. Nick Ruffin sometimes starts, sometimes doesn't, all the time cares.

"This game isn't about me," he says.

The Auburn defensive back instead chooses to look at the big picture.

"My job is, specifically, to help this team in whatever way I can. If that's being a starter, great. If not, then any other way I can do it is what I'll do."

Auburn's willingness to rotate players on defensive, especially in at position or two in the defensive line, has spilled over to the secondary where Ruffin is in a rotation. Ruffin says that benefits all, and gives secondary coach Wesley McGriff credit for it.

"He's giving everybody a chance to display what they can do and that's something that not every school does, not every coach does," Ruffin said. "To have a coach that has full confidence in every single one of his players is something that means a lot to us and that kind of builds trust with us going forward."

Auburn is still feeling pretty good about itself after beating LSU 18-13 last Saturday as it moves to Saturday's 2:30 p.m. homecoming game against Louisiana-Monroe in Jordan-Hare Stadium. At 2-2, and with a trip to Mississippi State next week, Ruffin says the Tigers will be ready for Monroe.

Auburn defenders talked about playing fast and free this week, even when LSU was driving and coming dangerously close to winning last week's game. Auburn didn't lay back. Defensive coordinator Kevin Steele sent his players to pressure the quarterback.

"That means he's not afraid and that gives us confidence, too," Ruffin said. "As a defense, you feel more concerned when you have a coach that's very, very conservative and you kind of feel like they don't really have confidence in you. As a secondary, when your coaches are dialing up full blitzes and leaving you man-to-man, he's saying I have full confidence that you can cover any receiver in the country."

"That's big for us in team chemistry," said leading tackler Rudy Ford.

And standing up to LSU's physical run game may have its benefits, too.

"For us, it was a gauge to see where we are as a defense," Ruffin said. "Just stepping on that field with Leonard Fournette, who is very big in size. For us to play as well as we did, it gives us confidence that, yes, we can play that kind of game."

The opponent is different Saturday. Ruffin says the drive is not.

"They may not be Top 25, but they're still Division I and they're still a good team," he said. "We have to continue to prepare. Prepare better. Find the things we've done wrong and correct those. It's not about Top 25 rankings, but it's about our development as players and coaches and as a team as a whole."

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



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