AUBURN, Ala. — Certain mistakes from Auburn’s defensive backs call for a discussion with the coaching staff — a conversation between drives, a film-room session or a moment in a Sunday evening practice.
But there’s one type of mistake that immediately sends Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele into action.
He can’t wait around to call out — or chew out — these missteps.
“Missed tackles bring on a little bit more wrath than (coverage mistakes),” Steele said earlier this week. “It’s hard to play DB, and occasionally, you get matched up and someone gets a little bit on top of the coverage next play. We’ll talk about the technique later.
“Missed tackles, no. We don’t talk about the techniques later. We talk about them pretty rapidly.”
Several missed tackles in the second half of Auburn’s 38-14 win over Mississippi State last Saturday drew the ire of Steele, who is demanding improvement in that area during the off week.
Junior safety Stephen Roberts most notably missed a tackle trying to make a diving play on the ball against Mississippi State wide receiver Keith Mixon. The Bulldog slipped by Roberts and ran down the sideline for a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter, ending Auburn’s hopes of a shutout.
Mississippi State's first TD: Stephen Roberts just misses in coverage trying to make a play. But the big surprise? Daniel Thomas on a blitz. pic.twitter.com/a46tpmjSib
— Justin Ferguson (@JFergusonAU) October 10, 2016
Mississippi State would score another touchdown later in the half on a drive that featured a few more missed tackles by Auburn.
Senior defensive tackle Montravius Adams said after the game he felt like Auburn’s effort wasn’t where it needed to be in the second half, especially in the area of tackling.
“Our goal was to come out and keep them at 0,” Adams said. “But I feel like after they scored that first touchdown that we let up a little bit. … Everyone always has stuff to work on, so we’ve got that to deal with.”
Overall, Steele seems pleased with the progress his defense has made through the first six games of the season. But those missed tackles that turn into big plays are inexcusable in his eyes.
“We’ve got some teaching moments on tape later in the game in which we had two missed tackles,” Steele said. “We just don’t miss tackles like that. We had a couple of issues in terms of getting our eyes where they needed to be and getting lined up. We did mix and match some players out there, but that’s no excuse. We’re not going to do that.”