Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Auburn fan Rick Williams, left, of Decatur speaks with Tigers defensive coordinator Will Muschamp at a Decatur/Morgan County Auburn Club meeting.
Getting a taste of Auburn talk
Defensive coordinator Muschamp gives Morgan Auburn Club an update on Tigers
By Bradley Handwerger
email@example.com · 340-2462
Dressed in khaki pants and a navy blue blazer, Will Muschamp moved from table to table shaking hands, exchanging hellos and introducing himself to strangers Tuesday night.
If Muschamp ever fails as a football coach, it was abundantly clear in the ballroom at the Decatur Country Club that Auburn's defensive coordinator could make it in another field — politics.
By the time Muschamp — the guest speaker for the Decatur/Morgan County Auburn Club's annual meeting — finished, he had managed to ease club members' worry about the 2007 football season. At the same time, he accomplished the feat of making the audience laugh several times.
And they weren't laughing to be nice.
"It's always good to reach out and meet the Auburn people," Muschamp said before speaking.
Though he didn't have a speech prepared, he moved through the evening as easily as he does on game day.
"I'm a speech communications major from Georgia," Muschamp said. "You've got to adjust on game day, so I figure I can adjust doing this."
This fall, he's going to have to adjust from the start.
Recent NCAA rules changes include kicking off from the 30-yard line, which is 5 yards further back from previous seasons. Muschamp said that with teams averaging between 20 and 25 a return, that puts the defense in a bind right away. Two first downs put some teams in field goal range.
"It's creating more space for players," Muschamp said. "All of the changes are being made for the offense."
But he's not complaining. He said he doesn't mind the changes.
Changes weren't the only thing of Muschamp was willing to talk about.
He's excited about the youth of the team, especially on defense.
He pointed out how safety Aairon Savage and defensive tackle/end Sen'Derrick Marks came through a season ago to put in quality time on the field.
They weren't the only two players he discussed. Muschamp also is excited about having former Decatur High standout Jerraud Powers back.
Powers, a defensive back, played well in several games a season ago, notably against LSU and South Carolina.
“I’ve got two sons at home, and if they end up like him, I’ve been a successful dad,” Muschamp said. “He’s not going to be a ball coach. He’s smarter than that.”
All three are going to have contribute for Auburn to be as successful this season as it has been the past three years. The Tigers lost most of the offensive line, most of their linebackers and both Irons brothers — running back Kenny Irons and defensive back David Irons.
Still, Muschamp believes Auburn is at a point where it can reload after losing players.
“We sat down after the Cotton Bowl and said we won 11 games, but we didn’t accomplish our goal,” Muschamp said. “The goal is to go to Atlanta. You get there, you’re in the national scene.”
As good as Auburn has been lately — winning 13 games in 2004, nine in 2005 and 11 in 2006 — its schedule gets tougher this season, with games at LSU, at Georgia, at Florida and at Arkansas, not to mention the home game against Alabama.
Muschamp doesn’t want to hear it, though.
“I don’t care where you play, it’s tough,” he said. “The schedule is an excuse. I don’t care. I don’t want to hear it.”
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