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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rebuilding a Defense: Rising From the Ashes

Will Muschamp - photo courtesy of Auburn Athletics

In an earlier post we talked about the exposing of Auburn's defensive weaknesses that became public knowledge in the South Carolina game. From that game through the end of the season, Auburn's defense was torched for over 30 points in each game versus FBS competition. 35, 31, 41, 34, 55, and 34. 

This is the reason Auburn fired Ellis Johnson as Defensive Coordinator, and hired Will Muschamp to replace him.

During that time span I listed that Auburn was letting teams score massive amounts of points, Florida allowed 20, 10, 23, 24, 20. With two of these teams being like opponents, Georgia and South Carolina each scored 20, and 23 respectively. The two division champs of the SEC were the only teams to score more than 40 against the Gators, and nobody scored 50 or more all season on them.

This next chart shows how Florida fared as a scoring defense:
in August/September 3 9 3 9 0 0 72 24.0
in October 3 9 6 7 1 0 81 27.0
in November 5 10 4 8 0 0 80 16.0
in December/January 1 2 2 2 0 0 20 20.0

Compare that to Auburn's defensive numbers:
in August/September 4 8 3 8 0 0 65 16.3
in October 3 11 1 11 0 0 80 26.7
in November 5 22 5 19 1 0 168 33.6
in December/January 1 4 2 4 0 0 34 34.0

There is a remarkable difference in the two. Especially when you look at the November and Dec/Jan numbers.

Before we jump to conclusions, let us look at the recruiting side of the equation. In 2013 Auburn finished 8th nationally in the Rivals final rankings, while Florida finished 4th. The average star rating was separated by just .02 points. The Gators signed 29 that year, while Auburn signed just 23. Below is the finish for each school since 2011.

Year         Florida          Auburn      Diff
2011          12th              7th             .04 - AU
2012          3rd              10th            .08 - UF
2013          4th                8th             .02 - UF
2014          8th                9th             .05 - UF

Basically, recruiting shows us the talent at each school is the same. Maybe we could break it down more closely by defensive players, although my gut says it won't be much different that what we have shown.

The difference is coaching. Auburn's defense was torched by our better opponents

Now that Auburn has "one of the greatest defensive minds in all of football" and one of the best best minds offensively in all of college football, the combination will be lethal for our opponents in 2015. It's time to rise from the ashes.

War Eagle!
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