AUBURN, Ala. — Chip Lindsey’s offense led by Jarrett Stidham was the focal point of many Auburn football discussions after Saturday’s spring game.
The Baylor quarterback transfer and his unit have been the center of attention for most of Auburn’s 14 practices on the Plains since the end of February.
And Kevin Steele’s defense — the on returning veterans in every position group — understands why. They’re OK with taking a backseat now because they believe in the fall they will demonstrate why they deserve to be talked about more.
“It will happen,” defensive end Paul James III said. “It just takes time. It will happen.”
MORE AUBURN NEWS: Projected depth chart after A-Day Game
James turned heads with an impressive A-Day performance, totaling 4 tackles (3 for loss) and garnering the defensive MVP award.
As a whole the defense came up short through the scrimmage, finishing the day without an interception or a forced fumble (wide receiver Will Hastings fumbled once on his own). While Steele turned around things last season, his coaching staff and players feel like they could have done more. That will be the focus come August.
“That’s what we want to focus on this year, creating turnovers. We feel like that was a weakness in our defense last year,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “We had a really good defense, but we were last in the SEC in turnovers. Even though we stopped a lot of people we feel like we can help our teammates and offense if we put them in great field position creating turnovers.”
Auburn defensive comparison: 2016 vs. 2015
|17.1||Points per game||26.0|
|361.9||Yards per game||405.2|
|132.8||Rushing yards per game||182.7|
|229.2||Passing yards per game||222.5|
|70-201 (35%)||Third-down percentage||89-198 (45%)|
|32-43 (74%)||Red zone scoring||40-53 (75%)|
|18-43 (42%)||Red zone TDs||27-53 (51%)|
Steele is pleased with the progress he’s seen this spring. Even as he’s experimented to fill out the depth at the safety position, he and defensive line coach Rodney Garner have come closer to finding the 10 “starters” they want. Meanwhile, Travis Williams’ linebackers have added depth with early enrollee Chandler Wooten.
“We came a long way (in spring),” James said. “Because the last day wasn’t like the first. We’ve got more work to do, so it’s just a work in progress. It’s just all up to us and mainly what we want to accomplish. We’ve got to attack that goal. Time will tell. We’ve just got to work.”
The defense found extra motivation in showing they haven’t taken a step backwards with the departure of Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson. So proving that hasn’t been an issue.
“We really can, because we worked a lot with Carl, and we know what Coach expects from us,” James said. “We step up to that challenge every day.”
A second year under Steele and a full cast of returning players continues raising expectations — even if only in the defensive meeting rooms for now.
“The standards are always supposed to get higher,” Davis said. “We hold ourselves to a certain standard. last year’s defense is last year’s defense. We have a lot of guys that came back and a lot of guys that played really good football so what we want to do is build off of last year. we don’t want to be nothing like last year — we want to be better.”