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Ellis Johnson On Mizzou Offense: “Really Good Players In Key Spots”

Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson meets the media Wednesday to discuss the Missouri offense and the upcoming SEC Championship game.

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Auburn DE Ford Expected To Miss The Tigers’ Opener

Georgia v AuburnDon’t expect to see Auburn defensive end Dee Ford on the field for his team’s opening day track meet with Washington State.  The Tigers’ leading returning pass rusher could miss even more time after damaging ligaments in his left knee.

Asked about Ford’s availability in Week One, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson told that there’s “no question” the man with six sacks a year ago will not play.  He is also expected to miss an “extended” period of time.

Ford’s injury occurred back on August 10th during a scrimmage.  “Freak thing,” Johnson said.  “Someone’s leg swung around him and hit him in the side.  Not real, real bad.  No surgery required.”

Auburn’s pass rush a year ago left much to be desired.  The Tigers registered just 22 sacks on the year, good for 11th place in the 14-team SEC.  So the sooner Ford returns… the better.

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AU’s Malzahn Ready To Slow Down “The Fastest Offense In College Football” If Necessary

AUBURN MEDIA DAYSAfter stating that he wants to run “the fastest offense in college football” (regardless of which of his four quarterbacks runs that offense), Gus Malzahn made it clear that he would slow things down if necessary:


“We completely believe in pace and, like I said earlier, if we can execute our offense at fast pace it’s a big advantage.  But as a head coach you’ve got to be able to understand how a game is going and what gives your team the best chance of being successful.”


Malzahn has had glowing things to say about defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson, but one must wonder if Johnson truly views a hurry-up offense as being a help or hindrance for his defense.

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SEC Headlines 6/3/2013

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1. The SEC’s sports information directors predict a rematch in the conference championship game.

2. SEC coaches are being careful with what they say in this 24/7 media environment.

3. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson discussed what went wrong during his lone season at Southern Miss.

4. Quarterback guru George Whitfield discussed what Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel needs to improve on before the season.

5. Kicker Andrew Gantz, who previously committes to walk on at Tennessee, has decided to attend Cincinnati.

6. Tennessee’s men’s athletics have reason to be optimistic next year, writes John Adams.

7. Kentucky is ranked No. 101 by USA Today for the upcoming season.

8. Alabama AD Bill Battle discussed his new role with the Crimson Tide after replacing the late Mal Moore.

9. Despite comments made by Ohio State president Gordon Gee, Bret Bielema isn’t a thug after all.

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10. Report: Jonas Hayes will become a full-time assistant coach on Mark Fox’s staff at Georgia.


11. Rick Pitino on Gordon Gee: “I have a major problem with him.” It gets better during this radio interview.

12. Rutgers’ handling of the Julie Hermann hire continues to receive criticism.

13. Athlon Sports predicts Clemson will win the ACC championship behind senior quarterback Tajh Boyd.

14. There will be no further action in the Pac-12 officiating dispute with Arizona’s basketball team.

15. Very early preview: The Big Ten has released its 2015 football schedule.

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WOW Headlines – 5/14/13

New Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says last year’s AU team was “a lot better than a three-win team”
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis says that his rebuilt defense has “got to build depth”
Georgia OL Chris Burnette says the Bulldogs’ offensive line can be one of the greatest in school history
Florida G DeVon Walker has changed his mind and decided not to transfer
Auburn president Jay Gogue has written a letter to Auburn fans supporting AD Jay Jacobs
Tennessee has fired its director of the Office of Student Judicial Affairs after reports surfaced of inappropriate relationships between the director and student-athletes
Tennessee is investigating the situation
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SEC Headlines 5/14/2013

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1. Auburn was “a lot better than a three-win team” last year, according to defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson.

2. Nick Saban is bringing out-of-states students to Alabama, which is helping generate millions of dollars.

3. LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis is confident in his defense. “The thing we’ve got to do is build that depth.”

4. Joe Schad reports Tennessee is in the running for transfer QB Wes Lunt. UT should make a run at Lunt, writes Barrett Sallee.

5. From yesterday: Kansas coach Charlie Weis backed Bob Stoops’ recent criticism of the SEC.

6. Florida coach Will Muschamp is a popular man with fans following a successful season in 2012.

7. Georgia’s offensive line can be one of the greatest lines in school history, says lineman Chris Burnette.

8. Jacquese Kirk, who recently transferred from Vanderbilt, admitted to stabbing an ex-teammate in April.

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9. Swingman DeVon Walker had a change of heart and will return to Florida for his sophomore season.

10. Star prospect Andrew Wiggins will announce his decision today at 12:15 ET. Kentucky is an underdog in the race.

11. Analysts from around the nation weighed in on Wiggins’ pending decision and his potential impact in college.


12. Auburn president Jay Gogue wrote a letter to fans following an evaluation of Auburn Athletics.

13. Southern Cal coach Lane Kiffin discussed the idea of one day coaching high school football.

14. Matt Hayes writes that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher shouldn’t release Matthew Thomas without consequence.

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WOW Headlines – 5/1/13

Police say suspended LSU RB Jeremy Hill can be seen on cell phone video beating a man at a bar and then celebrating with high-fives
Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson says DE Dee Ford is the “only pass rusher” who created the pressure he’s looking for this spring
Alabama QB AJ McCarron will be the honorary pace car driver at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday
Former Rutgers G Eli Carter will transfer onto Florida’s basketball team
Florida G Braxton Ogbueze is transferring away from the school
The city of Atlanta has released renderings for a proposed $1 billion stadium that will house the NFL’s Falcons and the SEC Championship Game
LSU is discussing a pair of neutral-site football games with Wisconsin
Arkansas is discussing a home-and-home football series with old Southwest Conference rival Texas Tech
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SEC Headlines 4/28/2013

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1. LSU and Wisconsin in discussions about a neutral-site football game.

2. Quarterbacks Johnny Manziel and AJ McCarron headed to the beach together in May. “We’re either going to Key West or Cancun and will hang out with our other friends.”

3. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier – 68 years old and still can’t sit still.

4. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson on linebacker JaViere Mitchell: ”I think he’s got a shot to be a starter.”

5. What we know now about Auburn’s offensive line, quarterbacks and special teams after spring practice.


6. Marcus Lattimore’s support group includes a fraternity of elite running backs.

7. Texas A&M running back Christine Michael was Seattle’s first draft selection.  ”If the Seahawks weren’t so successfully weird, you would overreact now.”

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8. Turns out Tennessee’s Jarnell Stokes was ready to leave – but then changed his mind.  Stokes’ decision part of a nice weekend for Tennessee sports.

9. According a story related by Missouri coach Frank Haith – don’t expect John Calipari and Kentuck to return to Maui anytime soon.


10. Looking for a list of all undrafted free agent signings by NFL teams?  Here you go. A list of the best names not drafted includes former Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers and several former SEC players.

11. How much money did USC quarterback Matt Barkley lose by staying in college another year?  (A lot).

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New DC Johnson Tries To Speed Up His Defense At Auburn

AUBURN FOOTBALLThe biggest trend in college football today is the up-tempo, no-huddle, fast-as-lightning approach to offense made popular — in large part — by the success of Chip Kelly at Oregon and Gus Malzahn at Auburn.  By racing to the line of scrimmage between plays, offenses are able to dictate to defenses their personnel.  Forget sub packages, there’s no time to get guys on the field and get them lined up.

Could it be that a solution to this problem might emerge from one of the school’s best known for its up-tempo style?

New Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson is building a defense this spring that he hopes can deal with Malzahn’s hurried offense on the practice field… and with offenses like Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Tennessee this fall.  According to Joel A. Erickson of, the plan is to put versatile players on the field who can be deployed in different positions based on down and distance.  In other words, there’s no need for substitutions on a play-by-play basis:


“But Johnson’s scheme, which keeps defensive linemen on the same side of the field against all formations, usually places the linebackers inside the formation and uses versatile safeties who can play either the boundary or the field position, matched the offense’s personnel by transforming from base defense to sub-packages while using the same personnel.”


Johnson’s new system also cuts down on the number of assignments for each player, allowing them to fly to the football faster.  Johnson likes what he’s seen so far: “They haven’t gotten a lot of brain lock out there on things that have been a little new that we’re doing or they see something the offense hasn’t done yet, see a new play or a new formation.  I’ve been really pleased with the overall performance of them from an assignment standpoint.”

No doubt, the solution isn’t perfect.  Players can still wear down over the course of a series.  And with fewer assignments, there’s the likelihood for a few more defensive breakdowns when facing an up-tempo option team.

Still, it is is fitting that one of the folks tinkering with a means to de-claw hurry-up offenses is a guy who has to face such an offense each day in practice.

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Auburn DC Johnson Bemoans Defensive Depth

gfx - they said itA real problem or a statement made to the press in order to motivate his players?  Or perhaps a bit of both?

That’s what Auburn fans must be wondering after their new defensive coordinator, Ellis Johnson, spilled the beans on what’s troubling him this spring:


“You can keep drawing up all these plays and defenses, but players at some point in time have got to make an impact play.  That’s what I really haven’t seen yet on the field…

Our first unit is way ahead of our second unit.  There’s a huge drop off.  That would be a point of concern right now.  I don’t think we’ve got four tackles.  I don’t think we’ve got four ends who play at a level we’ve got to have.  Hopefully by the end of spring we will.”


Johnson softened those comments a bit by adding: “I haven’t really seen anything that doesn’t look like it belongs on an SEC football field.  But I really haven’t seen a lot of impact players, just dominant, physical, one-on-one plays.  That’s something you want to see.”

Auburn has had a couple of key injuries along its D-line this spring and that must be factored into Johnson’s blunt assessment.  Still, those quotes are hardly what a fan wants to see/hear from his team’s defensive coordinator just 10 days before spring practice closes.

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