New defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said practice one went just fine and that was the assessment of former Tiger James Willis, who stepped on the field for the first time as a full-time assistant with the Tigers after an impressive career as an All-SEC player and later working as an AU graduate assistant coach.
Head coach Tommy Tuberville said he noticed his new hires weren't the slightest bit shy about making points in their first practice on the job. "They have taken the bull by horns and run with it," Tuberville said. "They have got a lot of enthusiasm--Will and James. It was good to see them out there.
"It was good to get back. It was a nice weather day. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will do about the same thing and we will put the pads on Thursday."
Tuberville noted it is difficult to tell much from an opening day non-contact workout, but said, "It was good to be back. We tried to knock the cobwebs off. We have a lot of young players. It looks like we have a lot of quickness and speed. We all look fast in just helmets though.
"We have a lot of interesting moves going on." Tuberville added. "We watched Will Herring. He did good. He is going to be fine. He is a smart guy who understands what he is going to have to do. You never know until you put on the pads, but I think he is going to be a good addition moving up."
Herring, a three-year starter at free safety, worked out at strongside linebacker as one of several spring training experiments. Defensive end Chris Browder is getting a look at tackle and cornerbacks Lorenzo Ferguson and Patrick Lee are getting looks at safety.
Tuberville says he will be closely watching defensive linemen like Pat Sims when the pads go on in practice later this week. The Tigers will have their first scrimmage on Saturday.
"I think Prechae Rodriguez has really moved up," Tuberville said. "He has got a lot more quickness. He has gotten stronger and more physical. That is really going to help him. Courtney (Taylor) is back 100 percent and looks real good. With all of the young guys there, there is going to be a lot of competition there to break into the top six. That is an area we are going to really concentrate on--there, and linebacker and defensive line."
Willis said he enjoyed getting back on the practice field as a Tiger coach after working at the University of Rhode Island last season. However, he said after practice started it was "back to business."
Commenting on coaching the linebackers, where the Tigers must replace starters Antarrious Williams and Travis Williams, he said the group showed promise on Tuesday although he added there is a lot of learning that must be done. "We have got a lot of young guys who can run who also want to compete."
Muschamp, who also worked as a graduate assistant coach at Auburn, was hired away from the NFL's Miami Dolphins to run the AU defense.
"It was good first day--a good tempo, players playing hard and players enjoying it," Muschamp said. "We will see how they are practice eight--on one everybody is excited.
"You either get better or worse,"Muschamp added. "You never stay the same. We got a little better today. We have got to get better tomorrow. We have 14 more days to improve ourselves."
Muschamp said developing "physical and mental toughness" and "learning to play with discipline" are the major goals he wants to achieve in his first spring as Auburn's defensive leader. "If we can do that, we have got good enough players to be successful."
The Tigers will practice daily through Saturday before taking their first break.
In other news:
*Offensive coordinator Al Borges said he was pleasantly surprised with the timing in the first practice of the spring. He noted receivers James Swinton and Robert Dunn had good days catching the football.
*No. 1 quarterback Brandon Cox looked sharp throwing the football.
*Borges said the competition for the vacant fullback starting job should "be interesting" this spring. Mike McLaughlin, Andrew Turman, Stephen Gowland and Danny Perry all will get their shot to win the job held last season by Jake Slaughter.