Todd Van Emst
Auburn's defensive line play suffered under Mike Pelton, but Gus Malzahn is reportedly trying to bring former line coach Tracy Rocker back to the Plains.
New Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn appears to be making his defensive staff a clear priority. Malzahn is reportedly interested in Ellis Johnson as defensive coordinator, and now, AuburnSports.com's Justin Hokanson reports that Tracy Rocker is the leading target as defensive line coach ($).
Rocker is currently the defensive line coach with the Tennessee Titans, a job he took in February 2011 after two years in the same position on Gene Chizik's staff. At Auburn, Rocker's linemen were known for a mean streak that has been lacking under Mike Pelton, who was hired as Rocker's replacement. Malzahn and Rocker worked together on the same Auburn staff in 2009 and 2010.
With Rocker coaching the defensive line in 2009 and '10, Auburn totaled 63 sacks and 176 tackles for loss, and the Tigers allowed 3.8 yards per rush. In the two seasons since Rocker's departure, the Tigers have managed 44 sacks and 140 tackles for loss and have given up 4.8 yards per rush.
Rocker is one of Auburn's all-time great defensive players. As a defensive tackle in 1988, he won the Lombardi Trophy, Outland Trophy and was selected as a consensus first team All-American and the SEC's defensive player of the year. Rocker was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft in 1989 by the Washington Redskins, and he was named to the NFL's all-rookie following his first season.