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'Everybody gets a chance' at Auburn's spring practice

March 25, 2014


Gus Malzahn talks football with his team at Tuesday's practice (Laruren Barnard photo)

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn was all dressed up in full pads Tuesday, and most everybody had a significant role. 

"We rotated three groups just trying to give everybody a chance to see what they can do," said coach Gus Malzahn. "The thing about spring, everybody gets a chance. In spring, things slow down." 

"The young guys, when they get thrown in with the first group, some of them react differently than others. It's good for us as coaches to see how they react with all groups, really." 

Auburn offensive players left bragging about starting quarterback Nick Marshall's growth this spring. But the Tigers haven't forgotten about backup Jeremy Johnson. 

Malzahn said Johnson is also having an important spring. 

"He's similar to Nick. He's getting more comfortable with the offense," Malzahn said. "He's getting better with the read-zone. He's got an outstanding arm. I know Coach Lashlee has focused on the read-zone with him, which he can definitely do." 

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee had Marshall running the run-oriented read-zone to success last year. Johnson's play was mostly limited to showing off his strong arm. 

Marshall, who receiver Quan Bray called an "NFL-caliber quarterback," has the offense in overdrive, already. 

"So far we've been faster, which we should," Malzahn said. "The quarterback is more comfortable. We've got the majority of our guys back on offense, and they've been faster. And I've been pleased with our defense playing fast." 

Bonus: "Not just playing faster, but to execute at a fast pace. That's when you get the advantage." 

Other topics of the day: 

On D-line coach Rodney Garner looking at defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Montravius Adams at end.
"Coach Garner is trying some different things out, mixing and matching. The thing about those two: They're very athletic even though they're big." 

On punt returns
"We have a pretty long list of guys who want to have an opportunity to do that. This spring will be good to see who comes out in that area." 

Who's the H-back and/or tight end?
Malzahn said C.J. Uzomah, Brandon Fulse, Ricky Parks and Gage Batten are in it. "It's kind of by committee right now." 

Video highlights of Tuesday's practice:

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



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