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Auburn's Gus Malzahn pleased with team's spring progress after evaluating first scrimmage

By: Miranda Mason, Joel A. Erickson Email
By: Miranda Mason, Joel A. Erickson Email

AUBURN, Alabama -- Auburn is nearing the halfway point of its spring practices under Gus Malzahn, steadily marching toward the A-Day performance on April 19.

For all intents and purposes, though, the spring is marked by the scrimmages, the coaching staff's chance to evaluate players in game situations.

Auburn held its first scrimmage of the season on Saturday. Over the weekend, Malzahn and the rest of the coaches thoroughly evaluated the film, and the Tigers were pleased with the results.

"We had three groups that were all rotating," Malzahn said. "Overall, we got the information we were looking for. We know a lot about the guys that played last year, but we're really looking at the new guys, guys that are young that have the possibility to help."

Auburn's returning starters have been happy with the newcomers so far.

A year ago, the team broke spring camp after A-Day with uncertainty at some positions and some uncertainty after a disastrous 2012 campaign.

Now, the Tigers' proven players know what they're seeing.

"It looks like we’re really adjusting well, and the guys that are new coming in and are going to step up and play fur us," Frost said. "They’re making plays."

In some cases, the first full evaluation is a chance to make sure promising young players know how to approach a scrimmage with intensity.

"Your first scrimmage, you're always checking maximum effort, just so everybody's on the same page," Malzahn said. "I thought for the most part a lot of the older guys understood that. It was good for the younger guys to see what that expectation is."

Gus Malzahn wraps up Day 7 of spring drills Auburn coach Gus Malzahn reviews the seventh practice of the spring, and talks more about the Tigers' first scrimmage of the spring after reviewing film.
Picking up the scheme has been no issue. In the case of the offense, the familiarity with Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle scheme, plus a returning quarterback in Nick Marshall who has been much more comfortable, has allowed the offense to progress faster.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ellis Johnson has been able to simplify his installation, stripping it down to the installation that fits the defense best.

By now, the difference between last spring and this one should be obvious -- Auburn won an SEC Championship in between the two practice sessions -- but the players feel very comfortable in their second year in the Tigers' systems.

"I think we've made a lot of progress," receiver Marcus Davis said. "We're just picking right up where we left off. I feel like everybody knows what to do and what to expect, so everything is going how it's supposed to be."

Auburn returned to practice on Tuesday, focusing on red-zone opportunities, 7-on-7 and full-team competition as the spring continues to march forward.

A scrimmage is in the books. At this time last year, the Tigers were just starting to figure out how Malzahn wanted them to practice.

This season, the foundation has already been laid.

"(Tuesday's practice) was also a clean-up from the scrimmage, after the coaches got a chance to grade everything, corrections," Malzahn said. "Just making sure before we move forward, we've got everything corrected, expectations and all that."

Auburn's eighth practice, the midpoint of the spring, is scheduled for Thursday morning.

And the Tigers are moving forward.


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