Derek Mason steps down at Auburn: What’s subsequent for Tigers as defensive coordinator leaves after one season

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Auburn defensive coordinator Derek Mason has stepped down from his place with the Tigers, the college introduced on Saturday. Mason, 52, spent one yr as a member of Bryan Harsin’s workers after serving as the top coach at Vanderbilt from 2014-20. In his place, assistant head coach and linebackers coach Jeff Schmedding has been elevated to defensive coordinator. 

“At first, I wish to thank Coach Mason for his management as our defensive coordinator this previous season and want nothing however the perfect for him on his subsequent steps,” Harsin mentioned in an announcement. “The choice to go away Auburn was not a simple one for him, and he’ll all the time be part of the Auburn household.

“Coach Schmedding was at Coach Mason’s facet day after day getting our protection ready and prepared. He’s an amazing defensive coach, who has coordinated championship defenses and is a confirmed winner. I do know our protection will take the following steps ahead below Coach Schmedding’s management.”

Auburn’s protection was wildly inconsistent in 2021, with performances starting from seven sacks within the four-overtime loss to Alabama within the regular-season finale to giving up 487 yards and blowing a 28-3 lead towards Mississippi State on Nov. 13. The Tigers completed ninth within the SEC in complete protection at 372.7 yards per sport, fifth in scoring protection at 21.8 factors per sport and fourth in yards per play allowed at 5.27.

Let’s shortly break down the affect of Mason’s determination on the Tiger’s finish.

What this implies for Auburn

There’s merely no different approach to slice it: this can be a large blow. Harsin introduced in Mason and former offensive coordinator Mike Bobo final yr partially due to their intensive expertise within the SEC. That was the best name for an outsider who, except for a while as an assistant at Texas and one yr as the top coach at Arkansas State, was primarily a West Coast coach. 

It is one factor to switch Bobo; the offense was a catastrophe final season and the protection shouldered approach an excessive amount of of the load. In actuality, it is a minor miracle that Mason’s protection was even competent contemplating what it was requested to do. 

Now, Harsin has ex-Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks coach Austin Davis operating the offense and Schmedding taking over the defensive coordinator function. Neither had SEC teaching expertise previous to Schmedding’s time final yr with the Tigers. 

Harsin is taking full possession of this system and doing it his approach. That is a harmful prospect at a spot like Auburn that’s accustomed to staying inside the SEC footprint and recruiting at a excessive degree. What’s extra, its two largest rivals — Alabama and Georgia — have separated from the remainder of the convention as two of the highest applications within the nation. 

If this staffing reshuffle does not work, Harsin’s time on the Plains may not final too lengthy.

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