Auburn Football: Will Muschamp Looking For Effort Over Execution, For Now


On the second day of spring practice, new Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp met with the media for the first time since he returned to the Plains in December.

Muschamp gave some insight as to his thoughts following the first two practice sessions with his new players, and emphasized that effort is more important than execution at this early point in the transition from Ellis Johnson’s 4-2-5 base defense to the new 4-3 base scheme Muschamp is installing.

Nov 15, 2014; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp looks on against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

“I think we’ve done a nice job in our offseason because of the new rules being able to meet with them more on football. We were much more prepared coming in,” Muschamp said in the post-practice news conference. “This is about my sixth time doing this, as far as implementing a new system. A lot of trial and error through those years, and figuring out probably the best ways to get things taught in a timely manner for the players.

“All I told them is, ‘Listen, effort’s on you right now. The execution is on us, and eventually you’ve got to learn to execute within the scheme and what we’re trying to do. Just give us effort right now and we’ll coach the rest of it. Right now, I’ve been somewhat pleased.”

As Muschamp and the defensive coaching staff installs the new defense, they are evaluating the skill sets of the players currently on the roster in order to determine who fits where. The players are attempting to prove themselves while also learning new terminology, and for several, at least one new position.

RELATED: Will Muschamp, New Auburn Defense 101 

Everyone has the same overall goal in mind: to fix the leaks in a 2014 defensive unit that allowed a school record seven consecutive FBS opponents to score 31 points or more, five times resulting in losses for the Tigers.

“We’re still trying to roll guys in and play different roles,” Muschamp continued. “We’re going to cross-train a bunch of guys at different spots. It’s more about teaching the concepts of what we do and how we do it, not necessarily putting a guy in one spot because you’re going to have some injuries. You never want to be in a situation of just putting the next guy in because that’s where he’s repped. You need to put the next best player in.”

Carl Lawson, who is back in action following a knee injury suffered last spring, is expected to play the “Buck” defensive end/linebacker position that did not exist under the previous regime. Rising senior Derrick Moncrief has made the move from safety to linebacker as has Justin Garrett from the now defunct Star position. Johnathan Ford is currently practicing with the first team at safety, but is likely to play some cornerback as well as the coaching staff continues to evaluate its options.

Others, like early enrollee Tim Irvin and junior college transfer Maurice Swain, are adjusting to life as Auburn football players.

Once spring practice gives way to the summer, execution will become priority No. 1. Simply put, if a player can’t be trusted to perform his roles and responsibilities as assigned, he can’t be counted on to play on Saturdays.

“I told them, too, there’s going to come a point in time if you can’t execute, you can’t play,” Muschamp said. “When we’ve got to repeat something over and over again, that’s when you get to the point and you tell the player you can’t do it and go to the next guy.”

The Tigers will practice 11 more times before the A-Day on April 18, then once more after the spring game. They play Louisville in Atlanta September 5.

Watch Will Muschamp emphasize effort over execution, courtesy of

Next: Four Under the Radar Players to Watch This Spring

More from Fly War Eagle