April 12, 2014
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn keeps a close watch on practice Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium (Lauren Barnard photo)
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN, Ala. - It's a new experience for Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn. For the first time since he took college coaching job in 2006, he sees the same under this spring that he saw last season.
And what he saw last season was something special. Junior college transfer Nick Marshall led the Tigers to a 12-2 record, the Southeastern Conference championship and to within seconds of the national championship.
Even before the BCS Championship Game, Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee were working to build on the lessons Marshall learned last season. And that effort continued Saturday through the 12th practice of the spring.
"That time we had before the championship game, I felt like he really improved," Malzahn said after Saturday's practice at Jordan-Hare Stadium. "There is no doubt he's improved from that time. He's gotten more comfortable. The key thing with him is he is very coachable. He listens to instructions. He's tried to do exactly what Coach Lashlee asks him to do."
Auburn did not scrimmage as expected Saturday, Malzahn said. Instead, there was fundamental work the first half of practice, some 11-on-11 work in the second half and special teams at the start, middle and end.
"The emphasis again was third down and 7-plus, rushing the passer protecting, throwing the football, knowing where the chains are and things like that," Malzahn said. "We did a little bit of red zone."
Marshall and backup Jeremy Johnson have focused on the passing game for the past week, Malzahn said, and will continue to do that until spring practice ends with next Saturday's A-Day game.
"I think both guys have had opportunities to do that and have gotten more comfortable," Malzahn said. "It will be the same thing the next two practices. Our goal was all our foundation plays, that Nick feels comfortable with his drops and his eyes and his progressions. I think he's getting close. ... I think he's come a long way."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: