HOOVER, Ala. — Will Muschamp’s one-year sleepover at Auburn didn’t necessarily result in a memorable season.
His defense showed flashes of brilliance, but the pass rush continued to struggle (13th in SEC) and he didn’t get much help from Gus Malzahn’s offense as the Tigers finished a disappointing 7-6.
Muschamp, however, had his eyes elsewhere as defensive coordinator and head coaching jobs came open elsewhere and landed the job as Steve Spurrier’s successor at South Carolina, where the Gamecocks are picked to finish last in the SEC East.
How will Muschamp remember his third (and shortest) stint at Auburn?
“Gus and I have a great relationship and I really appreciate him giving me an opportunity,” Muschamp said. “That was my third stint at Auburn. As excited as my family was to move to Columbia, South Carolina, we were extremely disappointed to leave Auburn, Alabama. What a wonderful community and people.”
Muschamp called the 12-month stay at Auburn a “great experience for me to see things from a different perspective. You know, Gus is as good of a person as you ever meet. I really enjoyed my time working there.”
Muschamp, whose defenses usually rank in the top 25, does have some regrets.
“I wish we had played better defense for them,” he said. “We’ve got a combination of guys that played pretty well at the end.”
Auburn’s defense held two hurry-up offenses to one combined offensive touchdown in the latter third of the season (Texas A&M and Memphis). Muschamp pointed to the move of Rudy Ford from safety to Nickel as a turning point, especially with Blake Countess proving to be more versatile at multiple spots on the field than first believed. Carlton Davis started at cornerback for the Tigers as a true freshman and was named to the All-SEC team.
The return of Davis, along with a deep defensive line led by Carl Lawson and Montravius Adams, has Muschamp believing the Tigers will take a step forward under coordinator Kevin Steele.
“I’m excited about those guys,” Muschamp said. “I’m glad we don’t play them, but I want to those guys to do extremely well. Taking things forward. Sometimes it’s good to see a different perspective how somebody practices, how somebody prepares and see how it fits to fit your football team.”