AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele met with reporters for the final time Tuesday before A-Day.
Auburn is one practice away from its annual A-Day scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. Check out what the first-year defensive coordinator had to say about the Tigers in our recap from the live press conference:
- “We’re not going to tolerate anything less than the best effort you have. They’re starting to buy into that. It’s been a process.”
- A lot of focus on technique, eye control and the “base rudiments of the game.” Some of the older players are still being developed, too, but there is progress.
- “We’ve put a major emphasis on tackling and getting the ball knocked down.”
- He repeats what we’ve been hearing throughout spring: freshman Marlon Davidson has been impressive along the defensive line. He practiced with the starters today.
- “I’m pleasantly surprised in terms of the progress” at linebacker. Deshaun Davis, Tre’ Williams and Darrell Williams are playing great with their eyes and “being physical.” “Are we there yet? No, but we don’t play until September.”
- “If we keep building, we have a chance to develop into a group that is very capable of doing their job up front.”
- Rudy Ford’s quickness as a “Star” helps. Looking forward to getting Tray Matthews back.
- Biggest thing he took away from the scrimmage Saturday? “The ability to control, snap after snap after snap, the explosive plays. We did not let things” get “deep on us.”
- The first-, second- and third-team lineups you’re hearing about mean “nothing” right now. He’s just mixing and matching.
- On Davidson: “He is a guy that is very physically, mentally and emotionally mature — for a guy that should be going to senior prom in the next week or so. If you watched it and didn’t know, you’d think he had been around here a couple of years.”
- Jeffery Holland and Raashed Kennion have developed into good edge rushers. First names he mentioned when asked about the lack of pass rush last season. You barely heard those names last season on game days or in the two-deep depth chart. Interesting.
- On cornerbacks: “Carlton (Davis), you go to that emotional maturity and it’s really, really important at the corner position,” and he adds it’s a “hard job.” He believes Davis has bought into secondary coach Wes McGriff’s coaching style.
- Jamel Dean “had a very good scrimmage Saturday” at cornerback.
- The goal is to have 18-plus players who are “starters,” hence the mixing and matching on the depth chart this spring.
- Cornerback John Broussard Jr. is “maturing and growing,” but it’s a “hard position.”
- On his evaluation of this defense and the pieces he has, despite the struggles under previous coordinators here: “I try not to evaluate the past too much because you don’t know what the situation was. … I just kind of look at it as, show me. I will say this: the biggest thing is the attitude they’ve had about working hard and responding to demanding you play with great effort and you’re physical and that you tackle. The way they’ve bought into that … has been a joy to see.”
- Steele will not answer a question about what he’s seen from the quarterbacks, who his defense has been allowed to tackle in scrimmages this spring. Auburn hasn’t tackled quarterbacks in scrimmages since 2013. He forwards the question to Gus Malzahn.
- On whether keeping terminology comparable to last season under Will Muschamp is important to help the players adapt to third coordinator in as many seasons: Not really the reason, he explains. “They’re lucky in that we’re off the same tree. Just like my previous job (at LSU), they were lucky that guy was my best friend (John Chavis) and we talked football for 30 years.”
- What do you want to see from defense on A-Day? “Good, quality effort, technique, toughness, tackling snaps. Just let them play football. It’s got to where, as you well know, and I’m not complaining, it is what it is and we have to take care of the game, but when you’re trying to develop young people … there’s very few limited opportunities any more. We don’t have preseason games like the NFL.” It’s all about building a library for situations in a game-like atmosphere.
- On Josh Holsey’s injury and what position to place him in August: Safety or corner. Not sure yet. “I suspect he’s going to be fine.”