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Auburn returns to practice and 'real tackle football'
March 22, 2016

John Franklin III takes the ball from coach Gus Malzahn in Tuesday's practice
John Franklin III takes the ball from coach Gus Malzahn in Tuesday's practice

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. Auburn got down to business Tuesday on its return from 11-day hiatus for spring break, so much so that coach Gus Malzahn ordered up, and got, "real tackle football" for the first time since practice began.

Spring practice day No. 6 concluded with a scrimmage-like atmosphere.

"I thought they were swarming to the ball and it was physical, which that's good, and that's what you look for," Malzahn said. "A lot of good energy out there. These guys have been looking forward to tackling for a while so it was good to see those guys do it, but the defense got after it pretty good.

"From a coaches' standpoint, you can learn so much about guys when you play real tackle football, so that was good for us. Saturday we'll go to the stadium and have an extended scrimmage. I'm really looking forward to that. I think we'll learn a whole lot about our guys during that scrimmage.

Malzahn said he is still toying with the idea of taking off the quarterbacks' non-contact jerseys and making them live Saturday. Malzahn said they've been sharp early on.

"I thought in the individual periods they were very crisp. They came back and did a solid job," he said. "Once we started to go live, it was a little bit more run oriented. That was by design. Overall, I like where we're at. We'll see how spring progresses. The scrimmages usually tell you a little bit more than a regular practice. All the guys are doing a solid job so far."

Malzahn also said…

•Defensive back Jamel Dean, who originally signed with Ohio State before coming to Auburn last season, has continued to impress in now, his redshirt freshman.

"He can run. He's a physical guy. He really caught our attention in bowl practice when we did some scrimmaging and he's carried it over into spring.

"He's a young guy, he's still learning but his attitude is good and he's got a lot of talent."

Dean came to Auburn after Ohio State didn't clear him medically because of a knee issue. He sat out last season.

Auburn's new coaching staff has also impressed.

"After six days, I really like our staff. I like our energy. Relating with our players, our players’ attitudes have been great. The positive energy has been good. It's just a matter now of getting better each practice and being fundamentally sound."

Defensive back and leading tackler Rudy Ford practiced for the first time this spring. He's been ill. But Malzahn said Auburn has enough "information on Rudy. Our coaches know what they're getting with him. Even though he was out the first five practices, he gave those younger guys more reps. Now, he's back out there: that leadership, especially in our league. That experience and leadership just means so much. When you get a guy like that back on one side of the football it helps in all areas."

True freshman and early enrollee Kyle Davis, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, is limited.

"You can tell he's a sharp guy. He understands football. He's impressed in individual, non-contact drills."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:  



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