AUBURN | Auburn’s defense has been very good the first four games of the season, ranking fourth nationally in yards allowed.
But it can get better. In fact, Auburn’s coaches are insisting on it.
“We still have a long way to go,” senior safety Tray Matthews said. “Coach (Kevin) Steele keeps on saying we can get better. As we watch film after every game there's still a lot of things we can clean up and perfect so we're still, you know, climbing up the ladder.”
According to Matthews, the biggest area the defense can improve on this week is pre-snap communication, especially when a quarterback calls an audible or players go in motion.
"The effort is not a problem at all. All 11 guys are flying to the ball all of the time,” Matthews said. “Just communication because everything else is good.”
Matthews plays a big part in calling out signals in the secondary but the linebackers and defensive line also have to step up their communication.
“We all have to be on the same page when things start moving fast,” he said.
Auburn’s offense took a step forward in a 51-14 win at Missouri last Saturday. It still has plenty of room to improve in all phases. That continued improvement on offense, defense and special teams was an important message head coach Gus Malzahn made sure to get across to his coaches and players this week.
“You look in our league, there's a lot of teams that'll be up high for one week or two weeks and then have a setback,” Malzahn said. “The teams that have a chance to win championships in this league are the teams that can figure out a way to get a little bit better each week.
“Now, that's a hard challenge in this league. But that's the challenge that I've put on our coaches and our players, find a way as a team to improve, even if it's just a little bit, each week. And if we can do that, then we have a chance.”
No. 13 Auburn hosts No. 24 Mississippi State Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. CT on ESPN.