As expected, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn confirmed Tuesday that starting safety Joshua Holsey would miss the remainder of the season due to injury. Holsey tore his ACL during practice last Thursday and missed the Texas A&M game.
“That is a tough blow for our defense,” Malzahn said. “It was a freak injury on Thursday towards the end of practice.”
However, when one man goes down, it creates an opportunity for another. That was the case for Ryan White. The senior cornerback was asked to move to safety to help make up for the loss of Holsey. He had no prior experience at the position and no practice time to speak of.
“We brought him in that morning,” defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. “Coach [Charlie] Harbison spent a few hours with him and he had a walk-through that afternoon with the unit. He knew the position mentally -- just being a defensive back, he knows what that guy does.
“The adjustments and the alignments and being in the right place and coverage leverage. I thought he did a magnificent job with no practice.”
Against Texas A&M, White finished with five tackles and an interception, the first of his career. On Tuesday, Malzahn said he plans to move the 5-foot-11, 196-pound defensive back into that role -- the boundary or deep safety -- for the foreseeable future.
“Ryan White did a magnificent job of picking up how to play the boundary safety,” Johnson said. “We moved Whitehead and Ryan Smith down to the dime and rotated them a little bit. We felt like that was the best thing to do because Whitehead and [Smith] had been working at the dime, backing up Josh, and they knew the position.”
Smith also recorded an interception against Johnny Manziel and the Aggies on Saturday.