Photo by Jason Caldwell

Gus Malzahn Says His Top Three Quarterbacks Will Be Off Limits to Contact In Tuesday's Scrimmage

News and notes on Auburn's Sunday practice are featured along with comments from the head coach.

Gus Malzahn (above) is shown at Sunday's practice.

Auburn, Ala.--After his Auburn football team put on the full pads for the first time this preseason, Gus Malzahn said there will be no hitting allowed on his top three quarterbacks during a major scrimmage planned for Tuesday.

Speaking after a hot and humid workout on Sunday, Auburn’s head coach noted that Sean White, Jeremy Johnson and John Franklin will be wearing orange no-contact jersies for the scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium. True freshman Woody Barrett, who is not in the mix to be the starter, could be live for contact.

“It will be a good scrimmage,”?Malzahn said. “We will let everybody play. It won’t just be a focus on the young guys. It will be old guys, too, competing.

“The quarterbacks are still getting equal reps, the three veteran guys with the ones and the twos,” Malzahn pointed out. “Woody is getting his reps with the threes. He is just trying to learn the offense.”

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Sean White, who finished the 2015 season as the starter at quarterback, is shown at Sunday's practice.

Looking ahead to Tuesday, the head coach said, “The first five days I feel pretty good about where we are at and I am really looking forward to this scrimmage to see kind of the guys who have really improved and, of course, the young guys, too.”

Commenting on the quarterbacks being off limits to contact, Malzahn said, “We are not going to go live unless I?think we need to. I am hoping we don’t need to. The freshman, you want to give him a chance.”

Commenting on the Franklin, Johnson and White, Malzahn said, “I feel very good with the fact that we have got three guys. They are much improved from the spring. The only way we would go live with those older guys is to have a situation to see who really steps up. I’m hoping somebody out of the three steps up so we can name a guy, like I said, sooner than later. We are really hoping not to have to do that.”

The Tigers worked out for close to 2 1/2 hours on Sunday practicing both indoors and outdoors on a hot day that included a rain shower late in the session.

“Overall, I would say the first five days of practice I think have been a success from a standpoint of leadership, a standpoint of coachability and playing together,” Malzahn said. “I?think our defense has improved each day and I?think our offense has done some good things at time.

“We have strained them, we have really put it on them,”?Malzahn said of the intensity of the first five practices. “The heat has been very intense, which is always good to get the guys prepared as far as that goes.”

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Marcus Davis catches a punt in Sunday's practice.

Sunday’s practice was the first day for the offensive and defensive lines to go against each other in full pads.

Asked about how the offensive line is progressing, Malzahn said, “The positive is we are going up against one of the better defensive lines each day. That is a positive from an offensive line standpoint. It won't be a shock to our system when we play the top defensive linemen. That is a positive.

“Any time you have got competition and you have got very talented guys, it makes you nothing but better. That has been a positive from an offensive line standpoint.”

In other news and notes:

*A late addition to the class, running back/defensive back Stephen Davis, will not play this season. “Stephen Davis hasn’t fully recovered from a knee injury in high school so he will just be rehabbing and won’t play this year.”

*Another late addition to the class, graduate transfer defensive back Marshall Taylor, has yet to practice. “We do expect him back in the near future,” said Malzahn, who had previously noted that Taylor was absent to take care of personal business.

*The Tigers don’t have practice on Monday. They will return to the field for two workouts on Tuesday with one of the sessions expected to be the first scrimmage of preseason.

*Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee said the Tigers may rely on a group of running backs rather than one featured back this season. 

“We are going to get them coached up and let them play,”?he said. “We will learn what they can handle and what they can’t. It may be a committee thing.

“It may be a deal where we don’t have maybe that guy that has 30 carries like we have in the past or it may be a guy who emerges who can handle that,”?Lashlee said. “We will take it as it comes.

“We do feel like those guys can do a very good job for us at running back,” Lashlee added. “We have got other guys who can be explosive, too, whether it’s young guys or other ways to run the football, too. We won’t know until we go out there and give it to them 20, 25 times.”

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Tyler Stovall is the holder as Daniel Carlson kicks a field goal on Sunday. Carlson's younger brother, Anders, an Auburn commitment, attended the practice.

*Keenan Sweeney, a sophomore walk-on fullback, won praise from Lashlee for his work the first week of practice. Sweeney is 6-0, 237 from Snellville, Ga.

*Fifth-year senior Josh Holsey and the rest of the defensive backs are playing for a new secondary coach this year, Wesley McGriff, who made the move from the New Orleans Saints.

“McGriff is a really good coach and a really good guy,” Holsey said. “He knows what he’s talking about, and coaching in the NCAA and in the NFL he has a lot of experience.

“He really doesn’t just give us one style of play, he kind of gives us a lot of techniques and we use that how they fit us best,”?Holsey pointed out. “He’s not really a robotic coach, he wants you to have your own style.

“He’s very funny. He’s probably one of the funniest coaches I’ve had since I’ve been here. He’s very into it. When we get on the field he’s intense every time. He wants everything to be intense. He wants us to fly around. It’s flowing through that secondary and we kind of feeding off him. It’s really big feeding off your coaches. He’s helping us in a lot of ways and he’s helping this secondary probably one of the best since I’ve been here.”

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