Coach Gus Malzahn said he liked what he saw as his Tigers spent the last half of the session focusing on teaching with the newcomers who weren't on campus for spring training.
"We did install some new things," said Malzahn, who noted the pace of practice was better than the opening session. "We are looking forward to tomorrow's practice. We will put everybody together for the first time. We will be in shells (shoulder pads, shorts and helmets), which will be very good for us to evaluate the guys up front."
Malzahn is keeping a close eye on the four players competing to be the starting quarterback, particularly juco transfer Nick Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson, who were participating in their second Auburn practice.
"The two new guys did feel more comfortable," Malzahn said. "We are throwing a lot at them from the sideline, but they are feeling more comfortable on the sideline and they were able to relax a little bit more and play football. Overall, I thought it was fairly similar to what it was the first day."
Commenting on the new quarterbacks, Malzahn said, "We will mix and match a little more than we have before. We won't throw them into the fire until we think they are ready, but it will be very quick."
Kiehl Frazier, who began 2012 as the starting quarterback and Jonathan Wallace, who finished the season No. 1 at quarterback for the Tigers, are making progress, too, the head coach claims. "There is nothing like experience," he said.
Wide receiver Ricardo Louis is looking to become a regular in the starting lineup as a sophomore. He is shown at Saturday's practice.
Defensive tackle Jeffrey Whitaker said it feels good to be back on the field for his final season and noted he likes the direction the team is headed. "We have a good tempo and we need to build off of that," he said. "We are working on playing together and becoming tighter and tighter.
"On the defensive line our mindset is that we don't have number ones," the senior added. "Everybody is for each other, everybody is rooting each other on, everybody is excited for each other and we are trying to do something special."
Rodney Garner is coaching Whitaker and the other defensive linemen. Garner returned to Auburn from coaching at Georgia, where he was on the staff from 2005-2012.
Auburn brought in a trio of freshman receivers from Florida--Marcus Davis, Tony Stevens and Dominic Walker. Asked about how those 2013 signees are doing, the head coach said, "I think they are all talented. It is just a matter of them picking up the signals and everything that goes with that. We are just trying to bring them along slowly. We will find out a lot more once we get in pads and get tackling and all of that."
After signing those players, the head coach noted that receiver is a position of need and that each one of those newcomers would have a chance to contribute this fall.
Malzahn said there is no learning curve for junior wide receiver Trovon Reed, a player he helped recruit for the Tigers out of Louisiana while serving as Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11. "Trovon is one of those guys who knows this offense. He knows all three receiver positions--four really counting the slot to the boundary. He is a guy we recruited specifically for this offense. We are really looking forward to him contributing and making plays."
Reed agrees with his head coach about knowing how to play all the wideout spots. "I am real confident at it," he said.
A highly-recruited prospect from Thibodaux, La., High, Reed is coming off a disappointing sophomore season in which he caught nine passes for 122 yards and one touchdown. He caught 21 passes for 164 yards in 2011 as a redshirt freshman.
A player who has been bothered by injuries as a collegian, Reed noted he is healthy and ready to have a strong junior campaign. "A lot of people think that Trovon Reed doesn't exist anymore," he said. "I just have got to go out there every day and get better with my team."
Trovon Reed is shown in action as a sophomore.
Reed pointed out he has read and heard a lot of comments that he has been a disappointing performer in college. "That is a lot of motivation," he said. "I still believe in myself. I know what I can do and I still have my teammates behind me."
The junior noted that he believes he is off to a good start in preseason practices and adds that he has been excited since December when he found out that Malzahn was returning to Auburn to take over as head coach. "He is the reason why I am here in the first place," Reed said. "When I found he was coming back it was great."
In other news and notes:
*A pair of defensive seniors were at graduation ceremonies on Saturday with end Craig Sanders and safety Ryan Smith picking up their degrees. "That is a really big deal," said Malzahn, who added, "especially when they still have eligibility in football left. It is tribute to those guys with their hard work."
Robert Leff is a redshirt freshman offensive tackle from Fairhope High School who is trying to move up the depth chart. He is shown at Saturday's practice.
*With tight end H-back Ricky Parks kicked off the team, Malzahn said the coaches are looking at four or five options of players to line up at those spots as well as at fullback where he noted redshirt freshman walk-on Gage Batten is a possibility. However, the head coach noted it is too early to tell much about who can handle those positions until the pads go on and the hitting starts.
*Malzahn said on Saturday night the Tigers will continue to give redshirt freshman offensive tackle Shon Coleman a chance to compete for the starting spot on the right side. In the spring he was a backup to returning starter Greg Robinson. Patrick Miller finished spring drills No. 1 at right tackle. Avery Young, who opened the 2012 season as the starter at right tackle, was limited in the spring coming off shoulder surgery, but looks to be full speed now.
Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes puts redshirt freshman offensive tackle Shon Coleman through a blocking drill.
*The Tigers will be back on the practice field Sunday evening for their third session of preseason. The Tigers will practice again on Monday before having their first full pads practice on Tuesday.
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