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Taking a Look at Louisville‘s First Opponent: Auburn Defense

Can the Cards Run Wild on the Tigers or Does Will Muschamp Turnaround the Auburn Defense in Year 1?

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

As the new 2015 preseason magazines roll out to the stores. We could not help but wonder why Auburn is ranked so high. So far, in the 3 publications, 3, 4, and 8. After a bit of digging and looking at the "analysis", it is clear the homework had not been done completely by the print deadline. There is no doubt, the Auburn offense will have an outstanding QB in Jeremy Johnson; however, the experience level, and the fact that he did not fit Coach Gus Malzahn’s offense that well, does leave some doubt. We will breakdown the offense in another article.

The focus here is on their biggest move, hiring Will Muschamp as the defensive coordinator. There is little doubt Coach Muschamp can coach defensive football, he has had successful stints at LSU, Auburn, and Texas before taking over at Florida. Defenses during his term as DC gave up 18 points per game and 300.6 yards per game over a 10-year span against good competition. The question we are beginning to look at is how he typically performs in his first year as a DC.

The strength of his defense is keeping points off of the board, typically improving by nearly 30% from the teams’ previous season. His largest improvement was at Auburn in 2006 where the Tigers went from allowing better than 32 points per game to just over 13 points per game.

But in other facets, the year one improvement is not that tremendous, and if that trend holds true, could leave Auburn in several shootouts like last year. Reading additional comments, essentially, the experts are saying the personnel was misused on defense and expect a complete turnaround. Our take, is that while there should be improvement and there is plenty of talent there, they have lost some production and they have a new scheme to play in.

Here is a look at Muschamp’s defensive numbers in his first year versus the prior season.


Year One


Points Per Game Allowed




Yards Per Game Allowed




Opp. QB Efficiency




Rush Yards Per Game Allowed




Granted, the defenses he took over were already reasonably good and in very fertile recruiting grounds. But for him to achieve this level of performance he will have to improve more than before.

Here is a look at the same categories, last season’s performance, improvement required to achieve typical year one results, and finally the performance estimate (aggregate).

Last Year




Points Per Game Allowed




Yards Per Game Allowed




Opp. QB Efficiency




Rush Yards Per Game Allowed




It is pretty clear the instant improvement, expected by most, does have some question marks. In addition to this there is a very suspect secondary that has lost, 45.5% of its interception production and 47.8% of it pass breakups. We are digging a bit deeper into some latter year numbers to see where this leads. One thing we do know is there is no way anyone can say he will turn everything around in his first year.