Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp knows the importance of having a good pass rush when the Tigers face Kentucky on Thursday.
“At the end of the day you have to have guys who can win the one-on-ones,” Muschamp told reporters on Sunday night.
Auburn is second to last in the conference with seven sacks through five games.
Auburn’s defense should have an opportunity to put pressure on Wildcats quarterback Patrick Towles Thursday night and improve upon those sack numbers. Kentucky has allowed the most sacks in the SEC through five games with 16.
Muschamp has attempted to jump start the Tigers’ pass rush by moving around players on defense.
Senior Linebacker Cassanova McKinzy has played the last two games at the Buck position (hybrid defensive end). The change was made to get McKinzy in solo matchups so he could use his skill to get in the opponents’ backfield.
Auburn’s entire defense has struggled to force plays for negative yards. The Tigers have just 23 tackles for loss. Only Kentucky is worse in the SEC with 21.
“We’ve got to create more negative plays in early downs,” Muschamp said.
Freshman defensive tackle Jauntavius Johnson may get a chance to play a significant amount of snaps against the Wildcats, according to Muschamp. He will add depth to the defensive front, which should help the team rotate in players so that the line doesn’t wear down throughout the game.
“I’d be real happy,” Muschamp said about his defense potentially pressuring the quarterback against Kentucky.
If Auburn’s pass rush improves this week, the Tigers will likely have many smiles to go around.
Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp: "At end of the day, you have to have guys who can win the one-on-ones."
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) October 11, 2015