No matter how you slice it, Auburn struggled to rush the passer last season.

The Tigers never recovered from the initial blow of Carl Lawson’s season-ending injury and managed their lowest sack total — 21 — since 2008.

That won’t be the case this season for a Western Division frontrunner equipped with some of the nation’s best incoming talent up front fueled by notable offseason hire Will Muschamp.

In last year’s 4-2-5 scheme, defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson wasn’t a big fan of blitzing. At Florida, Muschamp’s philosophy was nearly mirror opposite, employing several odd and three-man fronts with pass rushers coming from all angles and gaps.

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Defensive line returners Montravius Adams, DaVonte Lambert and Lawson anchor a talent, but unproven position group forced to replace four of its top five production guys at tackle including Gabe Wright and Angelo Jackson. Early enrollee Maurice Swain has a great opportunity at nearly 300 pounds to fill a void inside.

Byron Cowart, the nation’s top-ranked pass rusher in the 2015 class, has generated the most buzz. Cowart chose Auburn over Florida on National Signing Day and is expected to compete for a starting job off the edge as a true freshman like former five-star Lawson did in 2013.

If Cowart adjusts quickly to the college game and provides an instant impact, Muschamp will arguably have the West’s two most athletic defensive ends at his disposal, players with skill sets similar to the tenacious Dante Fowler at Florida who played the Buck position in Gainesville.

Auburn’s front four will have help, too. Muschamp’s plan is to transition veteran returning linebackers and top tacklers Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost into pass-rushing hybrids, a wrinkle he used with the Gators that helped Florida finish in the SEC’s Top 5 in total defense each of his four seasons.

With the addition of four four-star linebackers including Jeffery Holland, the Tigers flex tremendous depth at the position with 13 total players, allowing their new DC to rotate players in and out when he deems fit next season.

“(Muschamp is) hand-picking these guys to fit his defense, and he’s very excited about that.” Malzahn said on National Signing Day. “We got some guys that can help us immediately.”

Muschamp’s mindset on defense is to frustrate the opposition and knock its quarterback out of rhythm and the Tigers certainly have the talent to do that next season.