Auburn's Offense Improving, Coordinator Says

The Tigers returned to the football practice field on Thursday for a full pads workout.

Auburn, Ala.--Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee noted that the Auburn Tigers are making progress as they wrapped up their 11th of 15 spring football practices.

The Tigers worked out for an hour and 45 minutes on Thursday in full pads and had an SEC official crew to work the 11-on-11 and seven-on-seven portions of the practice.

"We are improving, some days at the rate we want, some days not," Lashlee said.

"I think the first five days, man, we had great energy," the coach noted. "I mean, you could tell our guys were flying around. I think we got better.

"We hit a little bit of a lull, probably somewhere two or three practices towards the middle, which is probably normal," Lashlee added.

"Guys get used to ‘hey, we're in practice 7-8-9-10, middle of the spring, and not fresh any more. That is when to be a great team you have to push through it and get better. There were some days I don't know if we got a lot better. The last two practices, I think our guys are starting to pick the tempo back up. Our coach has done a good job. We are getting better in a lot of areas, I think."

One of the players making progress is quarterback Nick Marshall, Lashlee noted. "His footwork is better. The number one thing, he is just more comfortable. He knows where everybody is at on every play. We haven't had any plays where he doesn't know the play or busts like that.

"It has just been a matter of him being able to go through his progressions, make the reads, make the throws," said Lashlee, who coaches the quarterbacks. "I think he is continuing to develop that leadership aspect with our guys, which is a really good thing for us at quarterback, so he is getting better."

Marshall arrived at Auburn last summer and did not have the benefit of going through spring drills. Through 11 practices Lashlee said the QB is playing at a higher level. "Not only do I think he does a better job of commanding the team and carrying himself, but I think because he is confident if he doesn't think the receiver's where he wants them, he's going to let him know.

"If they didn't give him enough time, he's going to let him know," the coach pointed out. "He's had the ability to admit, 'Hey, man, I blew that.' If you're not quite sure of yourself, it's harder for you to lead other people.

"I think he is more sure of himself even than he was in January," Lashlee said. "Last year, he led more by example and making plays and our guys believed in him. Now, he can be having an off-day and still lead our guys and they're going to listen to him."

Lashlee noted the Tigers have been able to experiment with using players at multiple positions this spring.

"I think you look at a guy like D'haquille Williams, hey we've put him at some different spots the last two days," Lashlee said. "Ricardo Louis and Marcus Davis, the same thing. Marcus Davis. We've moved those guys around a lot.

"I have been impressed with the way Avery's (Avery Young) has been able to play two positions," he said of the lineman who has worked at right tackle and right guard.

"I've been impressed with the way Chad's (Chad Slade) been able to play both sides. I've been impressed with Xavier Dampeer. When we've been able to move him up (for first team reps) this spring's been great for them because a big thing for us, we know what we have with Reese (Dismukes). Who's our next center going to be? We're still one play away the first play of the year from needing another center and it's been great he's been here for the spring and gotten all those reps.

"I've been really impressed with some of those guys and how they've responded because you've walked in after seven practices and say, 'Hey, Marcus (receiver Marcus Davis) you're going to play this spot today.' A lot of guys can't handle that but a guy like Marcus, he's only been here one year, but he already knows and understands the whole concept of what we're doing offensively. He can bump out there and really not miss much of a beat."

Marcus Davis was a key player for the Tigers last season as a true freshman.

The Tigers will return to practice on Saturday. Lashlee said he isn't sure if the team will scrimmage that day or wait until the A-Day Game the following Saturday when they wrap up spring drills. Whatever the schedule, Lashlee said he knows what he wants to see.

"I'm looking for high execution in the passing game, vertically down the field, our base stuff," he said. "We've been getting better all spring. I want us to continue to improve and execute at a high level in the passing game. I just want us to play well and execute.

"Our guys now know what to do, they know how to line up, they know the play, it's now about just executing at a high level and I think next Saturday, A-Day, will be a good scrimmage. It'll be good because now we get to see how do our guys compete and some of those guys like the Peyton Barbers of the world and others that still haven't' played in front of thousands of people. That will be our first test to kind of see how they handle themselves, which is good for us as coaches."


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