Auburn Football: What Will Muschamp Brings to Auburn


Guschamp. GusMusBus. Merry ChristMus. Boom Brothers. Legion of Boom. Jordan-Hare: The Temple of Boom.

All of the puns and nicknames rolling in from Auburn fans say all you need to know about how much the hire of Will Muschamp as defensive coordinator has energized the War Eagle faithful.

However, what’s with the excitement? What makes Will Muschamp such a unique hire? Why’s his reception at Auburn so welcomed after he failed as a head coach at Florida?

There are several reasons for this:

He has a history with Auburn.

Obviously, Muschamp was the defensive coordinator at Auburn from 2006-2007 before leaving to become the defensive coordinator at the University of Texas.

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Both of his defenses at Auburn were elite. His 2006 and 2007 defenses both allowed 298 yards per game. The Tigers allowed 13.9 and 16.7 points per game in 2006 and 2007, respectively. The 2007 defense ranked 6th nationally in total yards.

However, what most of the nation doesn’t know is that Will Muschamp’s coaching career began at Auburn.

Muschamp became a graduate assistant on Auburn’s coaching staff in 1995 after being a star defensive player at Georgia the previous four years.

Will Muschamp has been a man of many jobs. He’s coached at eight different places (seven schools and the NFL’s Miami Dolphins). But an endearing quality about Muschamp to Auburn fans is that he’s always found himself back on the Plains.

He consistently produces elite defenses.

This one’s pretty obvious, but that makes Muschamp’s track record no less stellar.

Muschamp’s defenses at Auburn allowed 298 yards per game in two years.

In 2009, his Texas defense ranked 3rd in the FBS, allowing 16.7 points and 252 yards of total offense per game. The Longhorns would go 13-1, win the Big 12 and appear in the BCS National Championship Game.

In four seasons at Florida, his Gators allowed 302.8 yards and 19.3 points per game.

In his one season as the assistant head coach of the Miami Dolphins (2005), Miami had the 8th-ranked scoring defense in the AFC (15th in the entire NFL), allowing 19.8 points per game.

It’s one thing to recognize that Will Muschamp has a great resume as a defensive mind, but when one breaks down the year-by-year numbers of his defenses, his resume gains context and becomes even more impressive.

He has likely learned from his experiences at Florida’s head coach.

Florida is one of the elite jobs in college football. When Urban Meyer “retired” after the 2010 season, the Gators made a shocking hire in Will Muschamp, who had never been a head coach before.

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  • The hire was based on potential. Muschamp had plenty of potential as a young, energetic man with great recruiting skills.

    Unfortunately, his tenure with the Gators was a rough one. Was it having too big of a job too soon leading to stress? Is he just not head coach material? Has he simply not reached his potential as a head coach yet? Nobody can say for sure, but regardless, Will Muschamp is better off having those four years in Gainesville under his belt.

    This isn’t to say his tenure was a complete failure. His second team, the 2012 Gators, went 11-1 in the regular season, earned a share of the SEC East title and earned a berth in the Sugar Bowl. Florida’s only loss was a 17-9 blemish in Jacksonville against Georgia. The Gators finished the season ranked 3rd in the BCS standings, and had the College Football Playoff been in place, they would have had a chance to play for the national title.

    Muschamp’s defenses at Florida were top-notch. Here are some notable stats for the Florida defense when Will Muschamp was the head coach:

    • In 49 games, Florida held 24 of their opponents to under 300 yards of total offense.
    • In one meeting against a Gus Malzahn offense (2011), Florida limited Auburn to 17 points and 278 total yards. Auburn had only 7 points through three quarters before scoring 10 in the 4th.
    • The Gators held 23 teams to fewer than 100 yards rushing. The fewest rushing yards allowed in a game by Florida under Muschamp was (-9) against Tennessee in 2011 (Muschamp’s first SEC game as head coach).
    • Seven teams threw for fewer than 100 yards against Florida. In 2014, Eastern Michigan, Missouri and Eastern Kentucky combined to pass for 128 yards against Florida.
    • Florida held 29 of their 49 opponents to fewer than 200 yards passing.
    • Florida allowed only 9 of their 49 opponents to gain more than 400 yards of total offense. Only two of those teams gained 500 yards (Missouri in 2013, Alabama in 2014). In comparison, since the start of the 2013 season, Auburn has allowed opponents to gain over 400 yards 15 times and 500 yards five times.
    • The worst defense the Gators had during the Muschamp era was in 2013. That unit was ranked 8th in the FBS.
    • Florida held opponents to fewer than 20 points 24 times.

    No, his tenure at Florida wasn’t pretty. It didn’t end well. However, it was a great learning experience for Muschamp, and now that he no longer has to worry about coaching offense, he’ll be able to devote his attention entirely to defense and build on the defensive successes he had with the Gators.

    Muschamp will bring a much-needed change in scheme.

    It’s unfair to label Ellis Johnson a failure. Throughout his long career, he built strong defenses and made his mark. However, for whatever reason, the 4-2-5 scheme was a disaster at Auburn.

    The Tigers were consistently out of position. The “star” position provided a big gray area as a hybrid between cornerback and linebacker. That spot on the field alone caused problems for Auburn.

    Now, Muschamp will install a 4-3 scheme that is more complex in its style but also more traditional position-by-position. This change is much-needed after the struggles Auburn’s had defensively the past two seasons (or since 2008, for that matter).

    How successful will Muschamp’s first (or third, I suppose) Auburn defense be? The answer isn’t clear. The Tigers have to remain healthy, and there are concerns in the secondary, but there’s solid talent on hand for “Coach Boom” to work with. That’s an exciting fact to Auburn fans, who are glad that the Tigers went “back to the future” with its defensive coordinator hire.

    Next: Muschamp's Impact on Recruiting

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