For any other mortal team, this might be a sign of some concern:
For the second straight year and third time in four years, Auburn is focused on installing a new defensive system during spring practice.
But not at Auburn, people. While Kevin Steele hasn’t found the time yet “to make substantial qualitative evaluations of his personnel”, it doesn’t matter, because he’s got his secret sauce.
“What we’re trying to create right now in the third day, first day of pads so the first real day of football, is to be a physical, dominating group that plays with relentless effort,” Steele said Saturday afternoon. “The thing that is the most encouraging at this point, in the first three days, is we’ve got a really, really good attitude. We have really tried to play with great effort on every play.”
Yeah, ’cause that was the one thing Boom never thought of last season.
But, look! The players are buying in already – or at least doing what players usually do in March, which is to make mouth noises about buying in.
Steele’s message is resonating with the players and they’ve responded.
“That’s what he’s been preaching the whole practice: effort and you build off of that,” defensive tackle Dontavius Russell said. “Making sure we all got good effort to the ball and stuff like that. … He said (Saturday) we’re playing with good effort. We’re trying to build an identity as a team and that’s with effort.”
Unlike in 2015, that is. Speaking of which, I guess there’s one area of the defense that doesn’t need to have magic pixie dust sprinkled on it to excel, because…
The defensive line remains the least impacted by the change in coordinators as defensive line coach Rodney Garner has remained on staff the entire time under coach Gus Malzahn. So too has Garner’s demanding ways on and off the field.
“You just got to learn to take to a coach, and that’s what I had to learn: Learn to get coached hard,” defensive tackle Devaroe Lawrence said. “That ain’t a bad thing. He’s just demanding the best in you.”
Garner’s gonna Garner, in other words. Although it’s worth pointing out that demanding the best in you and getting the best in you are two totally different things.
Eh, it doesn’t matter. Auburn’s gonna be relentless. Really relentless.
“The technique stuff, the scheme stuff, that’s a process that is going to take some time and we got to go day-to-day with that and evaluate it and keep teaching,” Steele said. “But the physical dominance of things of being a physical player, of playing with relentless effort and I’m talking about when you watch them play you say that they’re playing with relentless effort every play, that is something we’re pushing real hard.”
No, I take that back. Really, really relentless.