"We have a challenge in front of us," said Chizik. "We are going to stay on track continuing to build the foundation of Auburn no different than we did two years ago when we got here. We have a lot of inexperienced players. Today after practice we asked them to raise their hand if they started six games or more last year and I didn't see many hands go up."
The Tigers will have their first full pads practice on Saturday at the stadium. "We are not just going to go out there and just try to knock each other out tomorrow," the coach said. "We are going to put the pads on and hit some. We have got to be very smart on how we proceed in spring practice so we have a really good plan, and we feel good about it, and we will kind of see how that unfolds as spring goes."
Despite not having as much depth as usual this spring, Chizik said the Tigers aren't backing away from their strategy of having a lot of contact in spring drills. "That is the plan," he said.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said it is a big plus starting spring drills with two quarterbacks who have spent two seasons in his system because both have a good understanding of the offense.
"Barrett Trotter has a really good feel for what we are doing and he probably knows the offense as well as I do," Malzahn said.
Trotter said that is encouraging to know his position coach has that high of an opinion of his knowledge. "Of course, he knows it better than I do, but it is exciting to hear that," the quarterback said.
"I have been around Coach Malzahn and this offense the past two years and that is valuable experience," Trotter pointed out. "I think that will help me a lot this season.
"Because I have spent so much time with Coach Malzahn, a lot of times I will know what he is thinking," Trotter said.
With 2010 starter Cameron Newton headed to the pros and Clint Moseley the only other scholarship quarterback on the team this spring, this is a golden opportunity for Trotter to win the starting job. "It is a very exciting time for me," Trotter said. "Clint is a good quarterback and competitor and he is going to battle for the job, but the opportunity is there and that helps keep me motivated."
Chizik agreed about Moseley being a good competitor and noted that the quarterback came on strong late in spring training last year and threw the ball well.
Chizik also said he has been pleased with how early high school graduates Reese Dismukes and Jonathan Rose have adjusted to college since joining the team in January. "It is really hard for guys to come in and just jump in and do that and go with the flow," he noted.
Early high school graduate Reese Dismukes is expected to challenge for a starting spot at center.
The coach said while it is good to get signees in early, the coaches have to be careful about making sure the players don't lose their confidence trying to compete with college players when they are still the age of high school seniors. "But all of that being said I am really proud of Reese. I feel like he has done a great job of just trying to learn that position, which is tough.
"One of the hardest positions for a young guy to play is on the offensive line," he added. "You can really compound that by the fact it is the center position. There are a lot of directing of things going on he needs to do. All of that said he has been doing a really great job.
Cornerback Jonathan Rose graduated in December to get an early start on college. Commenting on Rose, Chizik said, "Jonathan has come in and really done a great job as well in the weight room. He is starting to pick up some things in the secondary. I think the tempo of practice is probably a little different for them today and yesterday. They will have to continue to keep getting used to. We went at a pretty brisk pace today once we got started. Those will be things that will be challenging for them."
The other early arrival, guard Thomas O'Reilly, is recovering from shoulder surgery, but "has fit in well," Chizik said.
In other news:
*Chizik said that linebacker Jessel Curry is not practicing while he is dealing is personal issues. Curry was injured last fall while playing as a true freshman. He did not make the trip to Arizona for the BCS Championship Game.
*Ed Christian, who redshirted last fall as a true freshman, is not practicing as he works to recover from a knee problem.
*The head coach refused to comment on the arrest and dismissal of four players last month. The group includes Mike McNeil, Dakota Mosley, Antonio Goodwin and Shaun Kitchens. He noted he was going to talk only about players practicing this spring. Chizik permanently dismissed those four players plus running back Eric Smith.
*Chizik said that new defensive line coach Mike Pelton has fit in nicely replacing Tracy Rocker. "He has really fit in," Chizik said. "It has been a seamless transition."
The Tigers will return to practice on Saturday morning for their third session. The workout will be at Jordan-Hare Stadium and will be watched by football prospects on campus for Auburn's third junior day this year.