Malzahn Says Tigers Making Progress on Pace

A report on Tuesday's Auburn football practice features comments from the head coaches, players plus news and notes.

Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn said his football team continues to make progress on its goal of executing at a faster tempo.

Auburn's head coach made that observation on Tuesday following the Tigers' fourth of 15 spring practices.

It was the second workout in full pads and like the previous one it included 11 on 11 contact work as the Tigers used three different units on both offense and defense to give plenty opportunities to a variety of players.

"The thing about spring is everybody gets a chance," Malzahn said. "A lot of these young guys that just showed up in the fall things happened so quick, but in spring things slow down and that is why we rotated three groups today--just to give everybody a fair chance to show what they can do."

The coach added, "The great thing about it is everybody is getting reps, everybody is learning the offense, the defense and special teams really at the same pace."

Auburn's second year head coach said he is seeing no signs of his team resting on its laurels as SEC champion. "Nobody is patting themselves on the back around here. I really feel like our guys are hungry. So far in the spring they have approached practice like they should so I have been proud of them in that area."

Commenting on how the Tigers are doing with their goal of playing at a faster tempo, Malzahn said, "So far we have been faster, which we should. Our quarterback is more comfortable. We have the majority of our guys back on offense and they have been faster.

"I?have been pleased with our defense about playing fast and lining up," the coach added. "That is a big thing of who we are. One of our goals is to leave spring being able to play fast, and not just being able to play fast--being able to execute at fast pace. That is when you get the advantage."

Robenson Therezie, the returning starter at the "star" rover position, pointed out that the defense is making progress at playing up-tempo football. "It is very important because we run that against our own offense," he said. "It just gets us in shape and (helps us) recognize what the next play is going to be.

"Some teams are fast-paced, some teams are not fast-paced," the senior added. "I am glad we go over that every day in practice so we can be conditioned."

Asked if the Tigers have made progress in that area, Therezie replied, "Oh, yeah. The pace doesn't affect is good for us."

So far in spring Therezie has been concentrating on playing the "star" position, but noted he expects to get in some practice time at safety.

With the Tigers just missing a victory in the BCS title game vs. FSU last season, Therezie admitted that is something he has not forgotten. "I think about it every night," he said. "I wake up thinking we should be ordering rings from a couple of months ago, but we are past that now. We know we can do the same thing. We have just got to get our guys at the same level as last season."

Following a two-hour practice at the football complex on Tuesday the head coach said the Tigers made progress. "I felt like overall we had a solid practice," he said. The coach said the Tigers will have their first spring scrimmage on Saturday.

In other news and notes:

*The competition to be the starting left tackle continues with the former starter at right tackle, junior Patrick Miller, battling redshirt sophomore Shon Coleman. Quarterback Nick Marshall predicts the Tigers will be in good shape at that position this fall whoever starts.

"I don't have any worries," Marshall said. "I know those guys will protect me with their life. I believe in all my offensive linemen.

Patrick Miller is shown in action at Tuesday's practice.

*Marshall and the rest of the offense worked on their pace again on Tuesday. "Coach Malzahn said we weren't fast enough last year," the quarterback noted. "That is going to be our goal, to get the ball off faster and get lined up quicker."

*Senior wide receiver Quan Bray said the offense is off to a good start this spring. "I feel like things are going real good," he said. "We are picking up where we left off a couple months ago."

Bray had high praise for how Marshall has been performing, noting the senior is throwing the ball with more accuracy than he did last season.

"I'm seeing an NFL-caliber quarterback right now already, just in the spring," the receiver said. "He is making throws he wasn't making last year--right now. He is just leading us and being that guy we can lean on and he can lean on us. When he makes a bad throw we just have to catch it."

*Defensive end Elijah Daniel was held out of practice on Tuesday with a minor injury, but Malzahn said it is nothing serious and the sophomore will be back in action soon. Defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams continued to get reps at ends on Tuesday.

*Malzahn said that backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson is making progress. "I think Jeremy is similar to Nick, getting more comfortable with the offense with the ins and outs. He is getting better at the read zone. Jeremy has got an outstanding arm, but I know Coach (Rhett) Lashlee has focused on the read zone with him, which he can definitely do."

*The head coach noted that couple of the young corner backs, T.J. Davis and Kamryn Melton, look like they are playing with more confidence this spring. "They are getting a chance to show what they can do," Malzahn said.

*With Jay Prosch gone the Tigers are using what Malzahn calls a committee of players to handle the fullback role. The group includes C.J. Uzomah, Brandon Fulse, Ricky Parks and Gage Batten. Parks was allowed to return to the team in January as a walk-on after being dismissed by Malzahn last August.

Senior running back Corey Grant said the Tigers are glad to have Parks back. "It's just like he never left," he said. "Everybody was already friends with him, knew him and it's like he never left really."

*The Tigers will return to the practice field on Thursday and wrap up their second week on workouts on Saturday. The annual A-Day Game is set to kick off at 2 p.m. CDT on April 19th.

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