Any headlines Thursday morning proclaiming Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp an anti-stats guy are a tad overblown. Or at least a little past due.
While Muschamp did reveal his tendency to ignore the statistical performance of his team, it’s nothing he hasn’t talked about before.
“It’s about winning games,” Muschamp said, Wednesday during his weekly press conference. “We’re 4-2. We’ve had two opportunities to go on the field and win and we didn’t get it done defensively. That’s the way I’ve got to look at it. I don’t get into stats. I’m not a big stats guy.”
The answer came in response to a question about the Tigers giving up a season-high 497 total yards of offense to Kentucky.
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His comments are remarkably similar to what he said about stats back in 2012 to the Orlando Sentinel as head coach of the Florida Gators.
"I've seen a lot of coaches that weren't good coaches that were stat guys," Muschamp said. "They worried about stats and they wanted to grab the stat sheet when the game was over. At the end of the day, the most important thing is winning the game and doing what it takes to win games. That's what we're judged on at the end of the day -- not style point, not stats. None of those things matter to me."
With Florida, Muschamp was dealing with one of the least effective offenses in college football, but his team was sitting at 10-1, and ranked No. 4 in the country.
Success or failure doesn’t change Muschamp’s approach just like he doesn’t need a box score to tell him how his defense is performing.
Muschamp knows how poorly Auburn’s defense – ranked 91 of 127 FBS teams – is playing. His lack of a reaction to the specific numbers, as ugly as they have been at times, isn’t about him burying his head in the sand.
The experienced coordinator is one of the most meticulous coaches in all of football.
On Wednesday, he rattled every mistake the Tigers made on third-and-long situations in their latest win, rapid-fire, one after the other. His descriptions of the individual breakdowns reveal what is important to Muschamp – attention to detail.
Muschamp is working to get the most from each one of his defenders with that in mind.
Carlton Davis’ improvement embodies Muschamp’s philosophic approach.
The early results with Davis in the lineup weren’t pretty, but Muschamp stuck with the true freshman, and is happily watching him turn into one of Auburn’s playmakers.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder made a key interception in the end zone against Kentucky, and has forced a turnover in each of the past three games.
“He's been in some 50-50 situations and the more reps he continues to get, the game is going to continue to slow down for him,” Muschamp said. “It was a well played ball and it was a nice thrown ball and he did a nice job sliding to the receiver in coverage. He has a lot of confidence and he'll continue to build his confidence as a player moving forward.”
Muschamp would love to see similar development across the defense, but understands it might be a longer-term proposition.
His first season at Auburn might end up as a blemish on Muschamp’s resume, he’s never coached a defense in the SEC that’s finished worse than the top 10 in total defense, but it won’t matter much to coach who doesn’t look at the numbers anyway.