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November 27, 2013
AUBURN | The secondary was a major concern for the Tigers earlier this season after one projected starter was dismissed and a top reserve was lost to a broken ankle.
The situation seemed dire when sophomore Joshua Holsey was lost for the season after a practice injury in October. Since then, though, assistant coaches Charlie Harbison and Melvin Smith have created three-man rotations at cornerback and safety that remained steady though October and into November.
That development played a big role in the Tigers' seven-game win streak.
"The secondary has done a really good job and our defensive coaches have done a very good job of double-teaching a lot of guys," coach Gus Malzahn said Wednesday night. "Some of them have to know corner and dime and regular safety, so our guys have done an outstanding job filling in because we're very thin back there."
They're doing more than simply holding down the positions.
Auburn has collected 12 interceptions this season, which includes 11 by defensive backs. Star safety Robenson Therezie leads the way with four while boundary safety Ryan Smith, who began the season as a reserve, has intercepted three passes.
The Tigers intercepted a grand total of two passes last season.
Only one was by a defensive back.
"We just have a different mentality this season. Going after the ball is a priority," said Smith, who intercepted a pass against Georgia. "We take a lot of pride in creating turnovers. That's what great teams do, so that's what we're trying to do."
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