Kameron Martin (above) is shown in action as a freshman running back.
Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn said that he is seeing progress as his Auburn football team moves into the final part of spring drills.
On Saturday the Tigers practiced for two hours at Jordan-Hare Stadium and held their second major scrimmage, one week before A-Day.
“We had a good practice--about a 55-play scrimmage with our ones against ones, twos against twos,” Malzahn said. “It was fairly equal in the number of reps.
“We went live as far kickoff, kickoff returns. We had two live reps of that. That gave us some great information.
“We also had some live extra point and field goals as a group, and that was really the first time we have done that as a total group this spring, which was very good.
“At the end of the scrimmage, we went thud (contact without tackling) and did two, two-minute situations just trying to get our procedures down at the stadium with officials and everything that goes with that.”
Looking at the big picture with 11 practices completed, Malzahn said. “Overall, in all three phases, I really like where we’re at. We have got one week, really, of spring left with our spring game coming up Saturday. Our guys are competing. They have a good attitude, a coach me, coach attitude so I feel good about where we’re at overall.”
For a second straight scrimmage All-SEC running back Kamryn Pettway was held out of he scrimmage. His position coach, Tim Horton, said the AU staff already knows what the big junior can do.
Walk-on C.J. Tolbert scored the only touchdown for the first offense in the scrimmage. He is a player who was a standout in the 2016 spring game, but was not eligible to play last fall as a redshirt transfer from Harding University in Arkansas.“He is in the mix,” the head coach said.
Malzahn noted that Tolbert performed well in the scrimmage and added that Pettway, Kerryon Johnson and Malik are having a solid springs at running back. “All three, and Kameron Martin has had a good spring, too,”?the head coach said. “All three of those guys are really competing and getting a lot of reps.
“We have got a lot of information with Pettway and K.J., and Coach Horton has kind of transitioned into making sure those three get good reps even with the first group,” Malzahn said. “It is a really good competition.
“Coach Horton, I am sure he told you the other day, we are looking for depth. At the end of the year last year, it got a little scary down there towards the end with just the number of healthy bodies. You can't have enough depth at the running back position so that has been a focus this spring.”
Martin, a sophomore who is trying to earn more playing time this year, said, “Spring is going good, every day just competing to get better. I?am just working hard trying to earn my right to get on the field this year.
“I feel good. I gained a little weight. Last year coming into the summer I was 172 and I’m about 188 right now, 186. I feel like putting on that weight helped me out a lot.”
One of the team’s faster players, Martin will need that edge to help him see more action that he did in 2016. “We’re all competing,” Martin said. “It’s a brotherhood. It’s just a blessing to be here. I can’t wait until my opportunity comes and I can pursue it.”
The Tigers have increased the amount of time they have worked on special teams this week and that continued on Saturday. Horton was named the special teams coordinator for the 2017 season.
“Coach Horton has done a good job,” Mazlahn said. “He is off to a good start. Overall, we’ve done quite a bit of live this spring, probably a little bit more than we’ve done in the past, so he’s just really wanting to get a good handle and a good evaluation on the guys that can for sure do it and we can accelerate in fall camp. And then the new guys coming in he can really focus on them, too. That’s kind of by design but he’s off to a good start. He’s a very good communicator. I know our guys have enjoyed him so far, and he’s a real precise guy, too.”