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Auburn's defense takes positive outing into Iron Bowl
Nov. 24, 2014

Auburn's Elijah Daniel wrapped things up against Samford

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Ellis Johnson has gone through his old South Carolina video, some old Southern California video and who-knows-what video from this season trying to track down Lane Kiffin's offense.

Auburn's defensive coordinator says Kiffin, Alabama's first-year offensive coordinator, has brought more diversity the Tide, and getting a handle on that will be a challenge in Saturday's Iron Bowl at 6:45 p.m. in Tuscaloosa.

Consider this your scouting report.

Johnson, then at South Carolina, faced Kiffin, then Tennessee's head coach, in 2009. Then Kiffin went to Southern California. Then to Alabama. A lot of video followed him.

"We went back and looked at some of his Southern Cal stuff over the summer just out of curiosity," Johnson said. "His system has been devised to take advantage of that talent. The way they're spreading you out with all the speed, with all the multiple formations, they have a very, very versatile bunch of players, and utilizing them and getting everybody the ball."

Auburn's defense can be buoyed by the fact the Tigers beat Samford 31-7 last Saturday. And this: Auburn's defense has allowed the fewest yards per game than in any of the last four seasons. Johnson said the performance against Samford was positive.

"I think as an entire team we did some good things," Johnson said. "I think Samford is a really solid football team in their league but, obviously, it’s not what we've been playing against the previous five weeks.

"We've got to find out whether it's who we played or how we played. I think a lot of guys did some things and improved during the week and during the game. We told them that’s what we needed to do."

But the intensity changes this Saturday.

"There are a lot of similarities in their formations from last year, but they're whole system is very different. It's got a lot of pace in it, a real fast operation, a lot of zone read," Johnson said. "The quarterback doesn't carry it a whole lot, but when he does, he's a threat to go the whole way. 

"He can get the ball outside, whereas that was a play you didn't really worry about. You packed the box and made sure you stopped the running back. He's dual threat."

On the outside is receiver Amari Cooper, who has 90 catches.

"I know everybody is Amari Cooper, and if you don't stop him, you probably don't have a chance," Johnson said. "But even you do stop him, you still got a long day of work. They've got a bunch of guys who can touch the ball and make it happen." 

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



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