"It was a physical practice," said Malzahn, who noted the Tigers did a lot in the session that ran for more than two hours.
"We really strained them," Malzahn said. "It was good for us as coaches to see how they responded in different situations. It was the first chance to see blocking, tackling and everything that goes with that."
Looking at the "big picture," Malzahn said, "We have got a long way to got. That is what I told the players.
"The great thing is I really feel like most of them have the right attitude and want to get better," he said. "It is just a matter of getting in the proper shape, learning the right techniques and everything that goes with that."
Malzahn noted that he wants to see his Tigers practice at a faster tempo, pointing out that a "lot of them are in shock" with the pace the Tigers are running drills on both offense and defense.
The Auburn defense had trouble last year vs. opponents that ran up-tempo offenses. Malzahn said when the Tigers get in the type of "playing shape" he wants as well as learning how to play at the tempo he wants, the defense will be ready to cope with any style of offense they see.
Talking about what he wants to see Malzahn said, "Getting lined up, being able to process and think quick, being disciplined and mental toughness--and then you play pace teams and the game seems slow. Just about everybody in our league is doing some sort of pace so it will be an advantage for them once we get into our season."
Cameron Artis-Payne is competing for playing time at tailback after transferring to Auburn from junior college in January.
Senior linebacker Jake Holland noted that practice is very different this spring compared to last year. "The first couple of practices were super fast," he said. "I think it is good for us. It really makes practice fun.
"It almost seems like practice goes faster with this tempo," he added. "We are learning and we are making strides in that process and I am really enjoying this spring."
Cornerback Jonathan Mincy agrees with Holland. "We are trying to get adjusted to what the coaches want us to do with this new tempo."
Mincy said that last season up tempo teams bothered the Auburn defense. "This is a great opportunity for us to face it every day in practice. We are excited about playing this way."
Offensive tackle Patrick Miller agreed with the defensive players that practice is very different than what the Tigers did last season, but said he likes what the Tigers are doing.
The sophomore added that the Tigers are making progress learning the system and said it showed on Saturday. "I thought it went well," he said. "I felt like everybody was moving fast, but that is how it is supposed to be. I don't know how much faster it is supposed to be."
Quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who is reunited with Malzahn this season, said he feels more comfortable running this offense than the pro style the Tigers put in under the direction of Scot Loeffler. "It was just an offense where the quarterback didn't move around a lot," Frazier said. "He was just a pocket passer. Off the field you learned the stuff. On the field it was three-step and five-step and you didn't really move around a lot."
Frazier said that he is "a lot more comfortable" in Malzahn's system with Rhett Lashlee as offensive coordinator. "When I got recruited this is what I expected to do. To get back to it is going to be fun."
Kiehl Frazier is shown at Saturday's practice.
The quarterback said the offense was "sloppy" and not as fast-paced as it needs to be. "We have just got to learn our responsibilities and start picking the pace up," he said.
In other news and notes:
*Frazier said that he and Jonathan Wallace, who are splitting the QB duties this spring, compete hard on the field, but are friends off the field. "I have been in this system so if Jon has a question, I will answer it. If I have a question, Jon will answer it."
*Wallace said having just two scholarship quarterbacks for spring drills keeps him busy. "A lot of reps, a lot of reps, a lot of reps," he said. "It's good reps. Even when we are not in, we are out there paying attention to the other guy, what the next play is. It is good for us. We are always doing something, and I think that's a good thing for us."
Angelo Blackson runs a drill on Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
*Asked if any players stood out at Saturday's practice, Malzahn zone said "zero" did.
*In addition to practice the football coaches were busy entertaining prospects in for another junior day.
*The Tigers will return to the practice field on Monday morning. Auburn will have 15 days to practice including the A-Day Game on April 20th.
Gus Malzahn Video: Gus Malzahn
Notes And Discussion: