AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson thought the Tigers improved at getting to the quarterback against San Jose State.
Now Johnson’s defense needs to make sure the quarterback stays in the pocket.
“The problem is we've got to keep him caged,” Johnson said in a post-practice interview Sunday evening. “We’re giving up some first downs on scrambles and scramble routes.”
Although he finished with only 20 rushing yards last Saturday, San Jose State’s Blake Jurich picked up four first downs on the ground against the Auburn defense.
Johnson included Jurich's scrambles as part of the “trashy plays” the Tigers need to work on before next week’s trip to Manhattan, Kan.
“We let the quarterback scramble out on the two third-and-longs, had great coverage,” Johnson said. “Just got out of pass-rush lanes. There are some things that can be fixed. It's not getting beat. It's not things from a fundamental standpoint.”
Johnson said improvement against quarterback runs will be “crucial” to his defense’s preparation for the matchup with No. 19 Kansas State. Wildcat quarterback Jake Waters is the team’s leading rusher with 193 yards and four touchdowns, including a late game-winning run last Saturday at Iowa State.
“Every quarterback we've played has been pretty mobile, but not like this guy,” Johnson said. “Coach Snyder is going to run him intentionally about 30 times a game if he has to. That will be a big deal, and just being able to fit the run against him, period.”