AUBURN, Ala. — In some ways, the eleven days Auburn must wait until its next game will feel like an eternity.
And Kevin Steele doesn’t mind one bit.
The defensive coordinator and the rest of Gus Malzahn’s coaching staff already started preparing for the Oct. 22 matchup against No. 22 Arkansas.
The Auburn players, however, won’t start studying the Razorbacks (officially) until they examine an even more pressing matter: themselves.
Even though some defensive players were slightly limited physically during Tuesday’s practice, everyone was present and focused on improvement and technique.
“We got some things done in terms of the physicality and the run fits and those things which were much needed,” Steele said. “It came at a perfect time in that we need it and the next team we play is obviously very effective at running the football, and throwing it now.”
Steele’s standards have remained high since he came to the Plains. He could easily detail several areas for his players to progress, but he started the bye week by giving each player two specific things to work on.
Six games into the season, most of the players have a good idea of where they’d like to improve, both individually and as a unit. And they’ve found some added motivation of late.
“The thing that I think is good (is)that you have a football team that is starting to experience success,” Steele said. “And we encourage if you get addicted to success then you want more of it then you know how to work to get it. And I think when somebody tells you, ‘I’m not where I want to be’, that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing.”
In addition to film study, the coaches will also look at statistical averages at the midway point in the season.
“We make markers of where we’ve got to improve, where we can get better, where we’ve left some,” Steele said. “For lack of a better term, some meat on the bone, if you will, where those numbers would even be better if we had done this and done that.”
Then Steele does further inspection, looking at why his team has seen improvement in some areas.
“OK, where is that improvement coming from?” Steele asks. “Why is it coming? Is it coming just because the team changed or are we actually getting better at doing the things we need to do to stop the run? It’s something we look at.”
“Now, is it the end all and be all? No, it’s not. Do we make sure that we know that we’ve got a lot of work to do? But it does give us some indication of that we’re making progress.”