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Will Muschamp's lineup changes help Auburn's defense
Nov. 23, 2015

Will Muschamp
Auburn's Will Muschamp has seen better play from his defense

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. Auburn's Will Muschamp says the return of Carl Lawson and shifting players around in his secondary have helped solidify his defense coming down the stretch. That's good timing considering Auburn faces Alabama at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"We just really need to focus on Auburn and what we need to do to be successful," said the defensive coordinator.

Muschamp hasn't been afraid to change. He's started 22 players, and while the starting lineup is often dependent on the formation the offense sends out, the only two Auburn defenders who have started every game at the same position are end Montravius Adams and cornerback Jonathan Jones.

Muschamp moved last season's two leading tacklers -- Rudy Ford and Cassanova McKinzy -- to new positions. Guess what? They're ranked first and third in tackles this season.

But when he lost Lawson to an injury in the opener, the defense was thrown for a loop until he returned in the eighth game.

"I don’t want to point at one guy," Muschamp said, but "certainly Carl has been a huge addition for us."

Muschamp credits the overall better play to "multiple things."

He said the emergence of freshman cornerback Carlton Davis has been a plus, moving Blake Countess to safety brought production to the positon, allowing Rudy Ford to play the nickel back instead of safety has been a good move and keeping Jones at the other cornerback has paid off.

It doesn't stop there.

He moved McKinzy from linebacker to the defensive end/Buck position, a move that allowed Justin Garrett to start at linebacker.

Ford and Jones each intercepted a pass in last Saturday's win over Idaho.

Ford, has a team-best 104 tackles, the most by an Auburn defender since Dontrarrious Thomas in 2001.

"He's closer to the line of scrimmage and he’s a good blitzer and good in the run game," Muschamp said. "He's a very physical player."

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



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