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Monday, November 22, 2010

Late night practice notes: Gus Malzahn on Alabama's defense: 'There's no weaknesses'

Alabama might have had to retool its defense after winning the national championship last year, but Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn doesn't think the group has lost a step.

"There's no weaknesses," Malzahn said.

Alabama is No. 1 in the SEC and third nationally in scoring defense (12.8 ppg). It's allowing 293.5 yards per game, ranking second in the league and seventh nationally.

"They're very good up front," Malzahn said. "Their linebackers, they're as big as some defensive ends and they can flat-out run. On the back end, they're extremely talented. No. 4 the (Mark) Barron kid, he's good as anybody in our league, great tackler, great instincts, good ball skills.

"They're going to make you earn it. It seems very similar to last year when you look at them on film."

Defensive end Marcell Dareus might not have eye-popping stats (28 tackles, 8 TFLs), but Malzahn said not to overlook his contributions.

"He's a disruptor," Malzahn said. "Even if he doesn't make the play, he disrupts so many things. If he doesn't make the tackle, usually he's influencing someone who does make the tackle."

Follow the blog on Twitter and Facebook. Then read some more notes and quotes from coordinator interviews Monday night:
  • It's going to be loud in Bryant-Denny Stadium Friday, louder than anything Auburn has faced, Malzahn thinks. "We've done some things last week and this week to try to prepare," he said. "Our guys are going to have to be very mature and they're going to have to do a good job of their communication. They're going to have to be very disciplined."
  • While the physical rest of the bye week usually gets all the attention, Malzahn said not to overlook the benefits of a mental break, eve if it's for one Saturday. "It's been a grind, I'm telling you," he said. "From a coaching standpoint, it was also good to get somewhat refreshed."
  • Despite the extra time, Malzahn doesn't want to put too many things in the playbook. "Just like a bowl game when you've got three weeks to a month, you've got to be careful about doing too much," he said.
  • Malzahn on getting TE Philip Lutzenkirchen back last week: "He provides a lot of flexibility for us. He's one more option in the passing game. And I tell you what, he does a great job with the run blocking, too. It's very important to have him back and have all of our weapons going into this thing."
  • Although Mike Blanc won’t be at his disposal for the first half Friday because of an NCAA-imposed suspension for getting ejected against Georgia, defensive coordinator Ted Roof said he still expects to rotate reserves in. “That’s what we do,” Roof said. “That’s what some of our kids have earned, so we’re going to stick with our plan and keep guys fresh in the ballgame the best we can and go from there.
  • Freshman Jeffrey Whitaker, who has six tackles in 10 games, is the first tackle off the bench with Blanc out. “We knew when we recruited him that he was a very talented player and a guy who was very mature for his age,” Roof said.
  • Roof has seen both sides of the Iron Bowl (he was a GA at Alabama back in the day). "Well, it’s a fierce, fierce rivalry, and it’s one you live with 365 days a year in this state," he said. "It doesn’t let go. It stays with you. It’s certainly the fiercest I’ve ever been a part of.”
  • Roof went to Georgia Tech, so he's aware of the Tech-Georgia rivalry. "That’s a great rivalry as well," he said. "But in this state, it’s just different. I can’t really explain it. I can just tell you it’s different, because I’ve lived it.”
  • Auburn held Alabama to 73 rushing yards last year. Eventual Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram finished with 30 yards on 16 carries and a bruised hip. “They were very, very physical, and they tackled well," Roof said of his defense. "Any time do that, you have a chance to do good things against the run game."
  • Roof, on Ingram and Trent Richardson: "They’re explosive. They complement each other very well. When you want to line up and run the ball in this league, you’ve got to have some depth. They’re both very physical in the way they run the football, and we’ve got a lot of respect for them."
  • Roof said not to forget about WR Julio Jones. "He's a physical receiver," he said. "He's a guy that makes plays in the clutch for them. And he seems to have a knack for making big plays when they need them most. And he's had a great year and has caught a bunch of balls and has made some big plays."
  • He said the defense makes minor tweaks when facing different kinds of receivers but it still boils down to execution. "It comes to getting lined up and playing hard and executing technique and executing the defense called and playing harder than you think you can play," he said.


Tar Heel Tiger said...

Great report, AB.

Can we shut ua-t's rush game down 2 years in a row? I don't know.
Can we stop McElJulio? I don't know.

What do I know? AU wins.

MikeP said...

Bammer's D is #1 in the league, big whoop. South Carolina's D was number one until they tried to stop Auburn, then they were back in the pack.

Next to step up was LSU's number one D. After Auburn got through with them they were back in the pack.

The reason UAT's D is number one now is they haven't played Auburn yet. After Friday, they'll be back in the pack just like the other previous number one defenses.

Clint Richardson said...

I'm not sure our D can stop anyone. But can they slow Bama's offense down enough? I think so. Put Demond and Zac on JJ, let Nieko cover Maze. Josh and our LBs can stop the run. Our front 7 will have a good day against this weak o-line. On offense, the middle of the field has been open all year, and UA doesn't cover inbetween the hashes very well. With our 4-man running attack, we will spread this field so wide an 18-wheeler can drive through it. O-mac outside, Mike inside, Cam doing what he does, and Mario on mop up work. I think we win this one 42-31. WAR EAGLE

Anonymous said...

Like that Malzahn likes Lutz, the kid is a friggen beast. He must be doing a great job in the run blocking, and what great hands. I know we don't use TEs per se but it would be awesome to have 2 of Lutz.

Anonymous said...

Please Please jam Julio at the line... All legal w/in 1st five yards for sure.... Disrupts timing and allows D-line to attack.