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Gus Malzahn calls Will Muschamp best defensive mind in football

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Muschamp is 'breath of fresh air' at Auburn (1:40)

Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahn talks about the Tigers' new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. (1:40)

HOOVER, Ala. -- Auburn coach Gus Malzahn had the highest praise on Monday for new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

"In my opinion, he is the best defensive mind in all of football, not just college football," Malzahn said Monday at SEC media days. "His approach, his energy, his enthusiasm for the game, he just has that presence around him that he gives all the coaches confidence. He's got the 'it' factor."

Auburn's defense, which Malzahn admitted hit a wall and lost confidence season, allowed at least 30 points in each of its last seven games against FBS competition. The unit hit rock bottom when rival Alabama put up 55 points against Auburn in the Iron Bowl. Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson was fired the next day.

This coming season, the return of star pass-rusher Carl Lawson and an influx of talent from the 2015 recruiting class will certainly help, but nobody will have a bigger impact on this defense than Muschamp.

"He may have been the best recruit we had in our recruiting class," Malzahn said.

Muschamp returns to the Plains, where he was defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2007. Both seasons he was there, Auburn had a top-10 defense nationally. Though that might be a difficult feat to accomplish in his first season back, his expectations are high.

"The big thing for Will is execution, playing extremely hard, giving 100 percent, flying to the football, being responsible for your position and just playing with that edge," Malzahn said. "Our guys in the spring really started to take on Will's personality, and that's a good thing."

Auburn opens the season against Louisville in the Georgia Dome on Saturday, Sept. 5.