AUBURN, Ala. — This year’s defense has the potential to be Gus Malzahn’s best at Auburn. The secondary will be vital in making that happen.
“We as defensive backs understand that for any defense to be great we have to be great,” safety Nick Ruffin said. “So for us, we don’t really focus on the outside talk of who’s good and who’s not. We focus on us and perfecting our craft daily and day by day.”
Coaches have been pleased with the progression of the defensive backs during the first week of fall camp. Despite recent coaching changes — defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was hired at the end of December and secondary coach Wesley McGriff was hired in January — players are operating under a similar system to 2015.
“Everybody’s just, we’re all on the same page,” Rudy Ford said. “And just everybody’s heads, everybody knows our defense now and (there’s) not a lot of confusion going on, so everyone’s keying in on their jobs and we got a lot more playmakers coming along. We’re just having fun out there.”
Part of that fun involves building solidarity as a unit. The other portion is embracing intense battles — they quickly escalate — for starting roles.
“It’s fun. Working together, but also competing against each other is always a very difficult thing to do, but it’s also very fun,” Ruffin said. “We have to build camaraderie as a team, but at the same time you have to perfect your craft individually if you want to be named starter. It’s really, really fun seeing some guys bicker with each other, but a lot of guys still have a lot of fun at the same time.”
The competition is just beginning — the first scrimmage is Tuesday.
“That’s definitely when we’ll figure out who’s really ready to be here and who wants to play come the first game of the season and things like that,” Ruffin said. “Obviously we evaluate the younger guys as well as the older guys. Going forward we’re looking forward to being able to hit and get after some people.”