Tigers Hit the Ground Running This Spring

A report is featured on the opening day of spring football practice for the Auburn Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Gus Malzahn said his Tigers will play fast this year, both offensively and defensively, and that was the theme of the opening day of spring drills for the Auburn football team on Wednesday.

How fast was it to the players? "Fast, real fast," said safety Jermaine Whitehead.

Cornerback Robenson Therezie agreed. "It was fast, but we are still trying to get the pace faster than it was today. We are trying to get our edge back."

Wide receiver Trovon Reed said the pace of practice reminded him of some that Malzahn put the offense through Malzahn was the offensive coordinator. "For the first day that was fast," said Reed, who expects the tempo to quicken in future practices.

Reed said that Malzahn liked the fast pace of practices when he was coordinator, but noted, "Sometimes Coach Chiz (former head coach Gene Chizik) slowed us down." That happened when the defense was struggling to keep up with the fast pace."

Reed noted that he likes playing fast and said he believes the Tigers will be ready to play that way this fall with help from strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell. "Coach Russell he pushed us and he trained us for this fast-paced offense."

The offense runs through a drill designed to simulate a fast pace in a game situation.

This season as a junior, Reed is going to try to take an expanded role. "My goal is to become a leader on and off the field," he said. "I saw guys who went out there and executed--Terrell Zachery and Darvin Adams. I played with those guys and I saw how they executed. I know how to win. Now I just have to brainwash the young receivers we have now so we can all get on the page we were on when I was with that group."

The Tigers worked out in shorts for two hours in the first of their 15 days of spring drills.

"Getting out there for the first day of practice was something we had been waiting on for a long time," Therezie said. "I know other teams started before us, but we had to get stronger in the weight room. It was pretty fun."

Therezie said he sees an urgency on his team to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season. "I can see it in the film room and I saw it out there (on the practice field)," he said. "I feel like everyone is different and everyone has a chip on their shoulder to get better."

Malzahn said he was happy to get on the field, but not as happy about what he saw although he noted he liked the "excitement" and saw a lot of "flying around" at the workout.

"I told our team at the very end of practice when I called them up that the main thing is we have to learn how to practice at the pace and the intensity both offensively and defensively," the head coach noted. "The Xs and Os they will come."

Gus Malzahn talks to his team on Wednesday.

Malzahn said he wants his players to be able to process information quickly and get lined up quickly on both offense and defense. "How we did today, we have got a ways to go to learn how to practice at that tempo and pace that we want, but that is to be expected...We didn't play fast enough today. We weren't really close, but we will get there."

In other news and Notes:

*Normally there are at least several players on the sideline unable to practice due to offseason surgeries or other medical issues, but that was not the case on Wednesday. Malzahn said the Tigers got through their offseason conditioning drills in good shape physically and health-wise.

*All of the practices are scheduled for the morning. The Tigers have two more sessions set this week for Friday and Saturday.

Saturday's practice is expected to have prospects in attendance with the football staff being host to another Junior Day.

Offensive tackle Avery Young receives instruction from Coach J.B. Grimes.

*LaDarius Owens was signed by the Tigers to play linebacker. He began his college career at that position, moved to end and is now getting a second look at linebacker. "We are going to give him a good shot at linebacker," Malzahn said. "That is what he wanted to do." He joins Chris Landrum as a player who moved back to linebacker this spring. Landrum had been switched to offense last year where he worked as a fullback and H-back.

*Justin Garrett and Javiie Mitchell, who worked as linebackers last season, are getting a look at the "star" rover, a cross between a linebacker and safety in Auburn's 4-2-5 alignment.

More Notes and Discussion:

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(More to come.)

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