As fall camp continues, more pieces are falling into place for the Auburn football team.

The Tigers are looking to reclaim their spot not only as a perennial threat in the SEC but also as a defensive powerhouse. Head coach Hugh Freeze determined Ron Roberts to be the right defensive coordinator to help that process.

Linebackers coach Josh Aldridge and defensive back coaches Wesley McGriff and Zac Etheridge each talked about what they have seen from their groups so far.

"So far, I think we're getting a lot better in the linebacker room just in terms of picking things up," Aldridge said. "In this defense especially, the linebacker has a lot on his plate. From the knowledge of the fronts, the coverages, all those things.

"I think we've got quality depth. We've got a lot of guys competing which is good. I don't think anybody is comfortable with their spot which is how I want it right now. I'm really excited going into scrimmage one on Saturday."

Eugene Asante, a junior linebacker who joined the program last season after playing three seasons with the North Carolina Tarheels, has been described as a breakout player. Aldridge weighed in on what he had seen from Asante.

"From the time I got hired I don't know if anybody had better energy than he did," Aldridge said. "He works so hard in the weight room. He's changed his body. I think somebody told me last year he weighed around 205 pounds, he's above 220 now. He's really what we like at a will linebacker that can cover and do multiple things. He just doesn't have a bad day in terms of his attitude ever."

Aldridge also played a crucial role in landing 5-star linebacker Demarcus Riddick.

"Effort," Aldridge said on what it takes to recruit. "I've said it before but this place sells itself. I'm very blessed to be able to recruit for Auburn. I'm really passionate about it because it's living the dream to be able to recruit for a place like this. We work really hard at it because everyone else in our league works really hard at it so we're going to try to keep it rolling."

The cornerback position is expected to be one of Auburn's stronger defensive units this season. McGriff has been pleased with the things he has seen from the group so far.

"We're fortunate to have a room full of veterans," McGriff said. "The leadership right now is by committee. These guys do a great job of coaching each other up. The biggest piece of that is guys doing a good job of listening to each other. When you have a football team that's player-driven, and the coach's voice isn't the one they're always hearing, you have an opportunity to be successful."

Getting freshman players adapted to the system and in a position to contribute is essential. McGriff talked about how much having an abundance of veteran leadership helps that process.

"That's the big thing for the young guys, that transition," McGriff said. "Everything now is faster. The game is faster. We have to remember as a coach that their whole life has been turned upside down. The big thing that helps is them being embraced by a veteran guy.

Safety is another group that will have a different look this season. Etheridge broke down what his players have shown him so far.

"It's been really good," Etheridge said on the things he has seen so far. "We have a veteran group that is picking up the defense fairly fast. These guys have done a good job this summer of getting themselves in shape and getting prepared for what the offense is doing.

"Leadership and communication is something we continue to harp on, and these guys have done a good job of taking it to the next level."

Etheridge has also been working with a lot of young players and is doing his best to prepare them for what lies ahead.

"I'm really impressed," Etheridge said. "Colton Hood shows up every day. T-Love (Terrance Love) is obviously picking up and moving fairly well. I've really been impressed with Sylvester Smith, he's a really smart kid. We've got a good group of older guys leading the way for them and showing them the ropes."

A common theme among the Auburn defense this season will be experienced veterans leading the way for talented freshmen who are eager to make an impact.

They will not have to wait much longer, as the Tigers are only about three weeks away from getting the season started.

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