* From Auburn Media Relation*
AUBURN, Ala. — They don't want any distractions, so Gus Malzahn and his Auburn assistants are at their coaches' retreat for the second straight day today, just to make sure everybody is on the same page with the playbook.
No phone calls, please. There's work to do.
In this otherwise specialized football world, Malzahn wants to make sure the new coaching staff has the big picture of each play before fall practice begins Aug. 31.
No wonder he talked of quarterbacks, but, really, the big picture for all of his players during 10 interviews at ESPN on Tuesday, starting with spring practice.
"In our 6 a.m. workouts we really tried to strain them," Malzahn said. "It's a work in progress. Our guys trust their coaches, and we trust them. But there's nothing like the real thing. The first adversity that we experience in the stadium, my head is going to be on a swivel. I'm going to find out exactly who is with us."
Malzahn talked of rebuilding the psyche of the team heading to the season-opener against pass-happy Washington State on Aug. 31.
"The over/under," joked ESPN's Ivan Maisel, "is seven hours."
Sure enough, Washington State does nothing but throw the football, and Malzahn has been known to throw it around, too. But unlike the Cougars (who rushed for an astonishing-low 349 yards last season), Malzahn starts with the running game and likes a balanced plan.
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