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Fast and physical: Tigers put on pads, pick up the pace

Aug. 5, 2013

Offensive lineman Dion Mix and defensive tackle Tyler Nero mix it up during Sunday's practice (Todd Van Emst photo)

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By Phillip Marshall

AUBURN, Ala. - The shoulder pads went on Sunday, the third day of Auburn's preseason camp, and head coach Gus Malzahn hit the accelerator.

After two days of veterans and newcomers working mostly separately, they came together Sunday, the first practice in helmets and shoulder pads. Malzahn said four quarterbacks - junior Kiehl Frazier, sophomore Jonathan Wallace, junior college transfer Nick Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson - worked with three units. And they worked fast.

"We got a lot of reps," Malzahn said. "It was very physical. I told our players at the end of practice it is going to give us a lot of information as far as evaluation. The first two days, in helmets only, you can only evaluate and see so much.

"I just told them they are competing every day. We had three groups, so we had a lot of reps and got a lot of good information from practice."

Malzahn said offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee rotated the quarterbacks among the three units, but he said not all of them got snaps with the first team.

"I believe Coach Lashlee tried to rotate them with at least a different group than they've been working with," Malzahn said. "(Marshall and Johnson) have just been working with the younger guys. We tried to mix and match and see how they react."

Malzahn said there was no separation in the race to be the starting quarterback. Every position, he said, is still open.

"After each practice, you try to figure out at each position if you played today, who it would be," Malzahn said. "You gather information more and more at every position throughout camp. It's way too early for me to stand up here and tell you we are going to be able to make it earlier instead of later."

Malzahn said he things got physical on the line of scrimmage.

"I thought it was pretty physical," Malzahn said ."They were getting after it up front. There is nothing like that first day of getting after it and getting back in the swing of things. There were some mistakes, but for the most part, I thought we had some guys being fairly aggressive up front."

The biggest early test is set for Wednesday, when the Tigers go to Jordan-Hare Stadium for a scrimmage.

"Once you get to scrimmage and play tackle football," Malzahn said, "you can evaluate a little bit better."


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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