August 20, 2013

NAMEDROPPER: Wright now craves 'verticality'


AUBURN | Gus Malzahn has accentuated the fact that his team must regain its physical edge before plotting a rise to the Southeastern Conference title.


The defensive line received the message load and clear.


Perhaps no other part of the Tigers' overall operation struggled more than the front four defenders during the 2012 season. Auburn trailed all conference teams in rushing yards allowed (198 per game) and rarely played with more than token power alone the line of scrimmage.


Nobody knows that fact better than the players who lived it.


"It was a very bad season for us last year," tackle Angelo Blackson said. "This year is a chance for us to redeem ourselves. It's a chance for us as a team to be able to prove that we're not that team from last year. It's a whole new set of Auburn Tigers this year and we're ready to come out and have a good season. A great season."


The task of re-inventing the Tigers' run defense fell to Rodney Garner, a former Auburn letterman who spent the past 15 seasons working with Georgia's defensive front. His biggest point of emphasis since his arrival here in January has been the idea of linemen getting vertical, which means wants players pushing upfield.


Garner wants the line of scrimmage to shift dramatically each time the ball is snapped.

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