Can Gene Chizik Improve Auburn Tigers Defense for Chick-fil-A Bowl?

Michael AbbottContributor IIIDecember 10, 2011

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Gene Chizik of the Auburn Tigers against the Alabama Crimson Tide at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 27, 2009 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Ted Roof's departure from Auburn left the team without a defensive coordinator. It came as some surprise when Gene Chizik stepped up to take on those duties. He could have asked a assistant to do the play-calling, but decided to do it himself.

Coach Chizik is no stranger to calling defensive plays. He led the 2004 Auburn Tigers to an undefeated season and the Texas Longhorns to a national title.

Can Chizik improve the Tigers defense in time for the bowl game, though? Probably not.

Let's be realistic. Auburn isn't going to change much as far as its scheme for the bowl game. The players are already used to certain signals, duties and terms. Doing a complete re-haul now would put them behind the eight ball. That will be done in the spring.

Can they get better as far as fundamentals? Yes.

This will be a great opportunity for Chizik to get hands on, and see improvement in, one of the areas where his team needs the most help—tackling. Auburn has allowed a lot of yards after contact this season and really needs to get a handle on this area for next year.

Coach Chizik was a defensive backs coach at Auburn, even though he played linebacker in college. It'll be worth waiting to see what improvements he makes, as far as angles and breaks on the ball while it's in the air.

Is Coach Chizik's reputation on the line? I don't think so.

Every football fan knows he can't work a miracle in just a few weeks. He's still dealing with a young team and with a philosophy left by the former coordinator. But what he can do is get them flying to the ball.

He can get players to compete with the passion and effort that will leave the Auburn faithful excited about next season.