September 11, 2012

VanGorder says defense not ready for 'man'

AUBURN -- When defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder was hired earlier this year to revamp the Tigers' foundering defense, the talk was about aggression.

Auburn was expected to begin attacking opponents.

That hasn't yet happened. VanGorder's group hasn't been able to create much confusion along the line of scrimmage and coverages, for the most part, have been zone schemes aimed at denying home-run passes. In short, the Tigers seem passive.

He has a simple answer - at least for the lack of in-your-face man schemes in the secondary.

"We're not built to play a lot of press man," VanGorder said Tuesday night. "I watched the 1-on-1's again today. We've got to go out and practice and get better at that. A lot of our mission has been to cut down on big plays over our head -- that was a problem a year ago -- and you know, we've been able to do that in the first two games. We're going to play to our player's strengths, right now (man coverage) is not one of our strengths."

Auburn has pieced together three highly regarded recruiting classes, though none of them featured a highly touted cornerback. Chris Davis, a three-star prospect, has been the most productive cornerback so far this season. Junior Jonathan Mincy (three-star) and senior T'Sharvan Bell (four-star safety in 2008) also played at least 20 snaps apiece against MSU.

Another three-star signee, Ryan White, also played Saturday.

VanGorder said Tuesday that the Tigers simply don't have the kinds of players who can thrive in man-to-man coverage, which forces him to use schemes he'd prefer to use as change-of-pace looks.

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