During the Tigers’ bye week, we caught up with a good friend of the TigerDroppings family, former defensive back from the University of Tennessee (1993-96), Ray Austin. Ray was a 2-time All-SEC team selection, freshman All-American, and the 1993 Citrus Bowl’s “Player of the Game.” But more importantly, he played his entire colligiate career under the tutelage of defensive coordinator John Chavis. We sat down and asked Ray about the man behind the best defense in the nation. Here’s what he had to say...

So Ray, what kind of coach is Chavis? Personality etc...How does he motivate? What kind of relationship does he have with his defensive players?

Coach Chavis was very personable. He LOVED the players in the weight room. He’s not a screamer; he just talks with a tone in his voice that lets you know he is for real. He motivates you to want to win, not just for you, but for the team, for your family and for the fans. He actually used to say that a lot. He is definitely a players’ coach. When he was at Tennessee he would have personal meetings with the players. That’s not very common for a coach to do that.

What does Chavis ask of his defensive players?

“LEAVE IT ON THE FIELD” and don’t sell your talent short. If he believes you can play, you are and will be at the next level. He will put you in all the right places to produce.

Obviously defensive plans change game to game, but what is the root of his defensive schemes? What are they designed to do?

BLITZ. STUNT....and most of all TURNOVERS. The thing about Coach Chavis’ defenses is that they’re all FAST! He recruits speedsters, and I mean at ANY position, not just the defensive backs. He has enough examples in his past that he finds the right players, like: Lenard Little, Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Al Wilson, etc.

As you watch LSU’s defense dominate this year, what has Chavis done that is his signature? Has he changed anything since you played for him at Tenn.?

No, he hasn’t changed anything to me. He’s recruited a bunch of “Tweeners.” “Tweeners” meaning: his players look like linebackers, but run like safeties, and safeties that run like corners. They’re “between” positions. Watching games this year I see a few players in that secondary that were once corners, but now are substituting as safeties. That’s Coach Chavis recruiting right there - multi-skilled players. D-backs that can run blitzes and D-lineman that can drop into coverage.

Can you break down for us what you see he’s doing with LSU’s defense?

I see a lot of bull rushes from the lineman forcing the QB’s to step up into the pocket and I see a lot of stunts or safety blitzes being successful because of that. This, to me, is successful because LSU can cover the deep ball pretty damn well. LSU’s defensive backfield is probably the best one he’s had since the 90’s at Tennessee. He has safeties that are playing in the right place, and corners that are always aggressive on the bump and run. It’s sick.

LSU has big time athletes on defense, but knowing Chavis, how is he using them to smother opponents?

Speed. When other teams know you’re loaded with speed they like to do a lot of draws, screens, and trick plays to slow that speed down. Unfortunately for other teams, LSU players are not only fast, but they’re smart. Coach Chavis LOVES smart players. Above all, LSU’s defense doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

What were a couple of things you specifically learned from him about defensive play that you took to the NFL?

The Coach Chavis defense made me understand how to read a QB’s drop. Fans don’t understand there’s a difference in body movement on a 3-step, 5-step and 7-step drop. He made me understand combination routes. For example, if one receiver does an out, the complementary route is a curl, etc. He also taught me each year at Tennessee that you should understand all the OTHER positions. You can tell an average player from a great player. Great players know what everyone is doing or close to it. As a safety I should know what my other safety, corners, linebackers, and any stunting D-linemen are doing at all times. If I know what they’re doing, I can be that more in-tune to my job. Hence all LSU’s DB’s being in the right positions at the right time on all those turnovers they’ve had this year.

Why do you think he has been successful for so long at two big SEC schools?

He understands talent - period. He is an SEC coach because he understands what type of player it takes to play in the SEC. Versatile runners, height, weight and size doesn’t always make the best players. I’ve seen him prove it over and over.

Any good Chavis stories about the kind of guy or coach he is?

I was going into my senior year and during the off-season I was named one of the team captains. Coach Fulmer and Chavis called me into his office and sat me down. At that time, we had a STOUT defensive backfield. One of our players came off of probation and another from injury. I had started at safety for three years and the coaches called me into the office and told me how much they respected my game and how they knew we could have a great defense, but we have to do some moving around, and said to me we would like to move you to corner. Now for me, hearing this was a dagger through my chest. I felt like I had never played corner and I thought physically one of the other players would be better suited than me. But Chavis and Fulmer were high on the change and mentioned that this would make me more attractive to be drafted by NFL teams. I was very disappointed with the decision, and looked at it as a demotion. Little did I know what they were really doing, which was making me more versatile, it was a change to sharpen my skills as an athlete and separate me from other safeties. Pro-scouts knew I could play safety, but this was a chance to show them I had more to offer. Long story short, I made the All-SEC team as a corner that year and then was drafted as a corner to the New York Jets. So, as I said, Coach Chavis knows what type of players to recruit, how to use them and does what’s best for them as well as the team.

So with a game like Bama coming up, what is Chavis doing/thinking with two weeks out?

Coach is on fire right now. I know how he feels about Bama. That started way back when he was wearing orange. I guarantee he is probably like that Tiger in that cage in Baton Rouge, walking side to side, ready to go.....

(Shhhhhh) I’m cheering for LSU because of Chavis.

One final question, Chavis looks like he smells like a good steak? Does he?

No, he smells like pasta.....we used to call him "Sport Mario" after Super Mario Brothers...hahahaha...love that guy.

Austin went on to play for the New York Jets, Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. He is now an actor who has been in over 30 commercials, as well as TV shows such as Detroit 187, Prison Break and The Beast. Special thanks to Ray for taking the time to talk to us. Geaux Tigers!
Filed Under: SEC Sports

Comments

41 Comments
user avatar
Great Job, Leo! :bow: :geauxtigers:
Reply126 months
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quote:

Larry Leo



Thanks a ton! :geauxtigers:
Reply127 months
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Nice job. Very interesting.
Reply127 months
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May be the most informative post of the year right here. Thanks Carl
127 months
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Awesome job! :geauxtigers:
Reply127 months
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quote:

height, weight and size doesn’t always make the best players. I’ve seen him prove it over and over.


Something ive been saying for a while now. Some posters need to get this through their heads.
Reply127 months
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quote:

The Coach Chavis defense made me understand how to read a QB’s drop. Fans don’t understand there’s a difference in body movement on a 3-step, 5-step and 7-step drop. He made me understand combination routes. For example, if one receiver does an out, the complementary route is a curl, etc. He also taught me each year at Tennessee that you should understand all the OTHER positions. You can tell an average player from a great player. Great players know what everyone is doing or close to it.
I saw evidence of this in a game earlier this year when an LSU defender on a end-around blitz recognized the play, reversed and dropped back into coverage and deflected the pass. Even the announcer commented on that being the sign of a smart defense.


Great post. Thanks.
Reply127 months
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who taught your tackles and ends to come flying into the quaterback like a loose missle ? :rotflmao:
127 months
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Nice write up. How'd you get the interview?

Forgive my ignorance of not knowing who you are or who you work with. :geauxtigers:
Reply127 months
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quote:

Coach is on fire right now. I know how he feels about Bama. That started way back when he was wearing orange. I guarantee he is probably like that Tiger in that cage in Baton Rouge, walking side to side, ready to go.....


:nana:
Reply127 months
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quote:

Larry Leo


Thanks for that!

:bow:

:geauxtigers:
Reply127 months
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Great read. Lol@ sport mario
127 months
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Excellent objective viewpoint. Great interview!

Thanx for the insight into the brains behind the "D"
Reply127 months
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quote:

He’s recruited a bunch of “Tweeners.” “Tweeners” meaning: his players look like linebackers, but run like safeties, and safeties that run like corners. They’re “between” positions. Watching games this year I see a few players in that secondary that were once corners, but now are substituting as safeties. That’s Coach Chavis recruiting right there - multi-skilled players. D-backs that can run blitzes and D-lineman that can drop into coverage.

This is my favorite thing about our D
Reply127 months
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nice! thanks. :bow:
Reply127 months
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Good read. Very interesting breakdown.
Reply127 months
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Thanks. Great info!! :cheers:
Reply127 months
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Great write up! Now can the thread about Skyler Green get whacked because he said that he still likes Coach Saban? As a fan, I still like him too. But just like Skyler, I hope the Tigers stomp a mud hole in Alabama's butt and walk it dry.
127 months
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Excellent work Larry! It reminds me of when Carl Dubois was doing work around here. I have only been here since 08 but when Carl was contributing in 09 that was when TD was at its best. Thanks again :cheers: :geauxtigers:
Reply127 months
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Great interview. I feel like I know the chief much better after reading that.
127 months
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:cheers: .. damn fine read.
Reply127 months
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Great job. :cheers:
Reply127 months
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quote:

Coach is on fire right now. I know how he feels about Bama. That started way back when he was wearing orange. I guarantee he is probably like that Tiger in that cage in Baton Rouge, walking side to side, ready to go.....
Reply127 months
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jdg,

Where did you get the pic of Tiger Stadium in your sig? That photo is absolutely spectacular.
127 months
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These are the quality threads that keep some sanity in this place.
Reply127 months
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This is GREAT original content Larry. I love this stuff.

You need to give Chris Warner some lessons.
Reply127 months
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Ryno, Leo has definitely stepped up his game.
127 months
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