The Auburn Tigers (8-4, 4-4 SEC) are still building a program under second-year head coach Gus Malzahn, winning eight games in 2014. The Tigers offense was as explosive as we’ve come to expect under Malzahn, but the defense was porous down the stretch. Auburn allowed at least 31 points and 400 yards of total offense in six of its final seven games, leading to the ouster of former defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. Here’s a detailed analysis of the Tigers’ defense.

Defensive Line: The preseason loss of defensive end Carl Lawson proved too much to overcome. The pass rush was abysmal all season, failing to create pressure on opposing quarterbacks with great regularity. Montravius Adams and DaVonte Lambert provided some stability to the defensive front, combining for 15 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Gave Wright, Angelo Blackson and Ben Bradley provided short bursts of production throughout the year. The Tigers need to address the depth along the front four entering 2015.

Linebackers: Perhaps the most head-scratching issue on the Auburn defense in 2014 was the inconsistent production at linebacker. Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost ranked first and second, respectively, on the team in tackles this season with 82 and 75. Both players were hot and cold week-to-week, with Johnson eventually moving to a rotation and the position searching for consistency. Anthony Swain, Justin Garrett and Tre’ Williams added some production to the position, but linebacker spot was, at times, the Achilles Heel for Auburn this season.

Defensive Backs: The secondary continues to be the biggest problem for the Tigers. Cornerback Jonathan Jones was the best player on the Auburn defense in 2014, intercepting six passes and breaking up 11 passes. Jones is a great cover corner, but also boasts a good ability to play the ball. Rudy Ford, Josh Holsey and Robenson Therezie all had nice years at the safety position. Perhaps the biggest returner is JUCO transfer Derrick Moncrief.

The Auburn defense will receive a makeover this offseason in the wake of the hire of new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Johnson had to be fired after a program-worst six week stretch. The Tigers have talent and need more depth, but are in a good position to be successful in 2015.