Marshall Law: Summer thoughts and impressions

July 27, 2013


AUBURN, Ala. - The calendar and the heat say it's still summer, but for Auburn's football team, summer is as good as over. Players officially report Thursday and begin preseason practice Friday. Five weeks from today, the Tigers will open their season against Washington State at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Looking back on the three-plus months since the A-Day game, I have some thoughts and impressions about Gus Malzahn's first Auburn team.

The name most mentioned by Auburn players, by some distance, is Ryan Russell, the man Malzahn chose to run the strength and conditioning program. As much as they respected Kevin Yoxall, Auburn players have bought into Russell's program with enthusiasm. The results have been striking.

"To a man, I believe we all got stronger and faster," senior linebacker Jake Holland says. ...

I will be surprised if Dee Ford doesn't have a monster season at defensive end. Same goes for Chris Davis at cornerback.

Jay Prosch continues to impress everyone with his work ethic, with his loyalty to his team and by just being a really good guy.

True freshman quarterback Jeremy Johnson probably won't be Auburn's starter and might even redshirt, but he has impressed his teammates with his arm and with his ability to pick up the offense. ...

Junior college transfer quarterback Nick Marshall has impressed just about everybody with his combination of arm strength and athleticism. ...

Auburn defensive players really like Ellis Johnson's 4-2-5 scheme. They believe it fits them better than Brian VanGorder's scheme did last season. ...

It seems like a lot more than talk when players say they are closer together, more committed to each other and playing for each other much more than last season. That commitment has been shown by their willingness to work overtime and in the lack of off-field issues. ...

Malzahn has done a masterful job of gaining the respect and trust of his players and of Auburn fans. It would be difficult to find a single misstep so far. ...

Ditto for the assistant coaches Malzahn hired. Their experience, their ability to teach and their ability to establish relationships with their players on a personal level has been impressive. If players believe their coaches care about them as people, they will perform better on the field. And Auburn players believe their coaches care. ...

Junior tailback Tre Mason doesn't get the amount of attention that some backs in the SEC get, but his teammates are convinced he's as good as any of them. ...

Upperclassmen have had nothing but good things to say about the incoming class of newcomers, praising their work ethic and their willingness to learn. ...

Don't expect a walkover when Washington State comes to town. Auburn defensive coaches expect a serious challenge from Mike Leach's offense. The Cougars are not an ideal opponent for a new staff's first game together. ...

Until next time ...

 

Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: