Aug. 7, 2013
Jonathan Wallace is subject to being tackled in Auburn's scrimmage (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Linebacker Jake Holland knew Auburn's first fall scrimmage was a big deal when Gus Malzahn took the non-contact orange jerseys off his quarterbacks and told them to wear their regular blues.
Kiehl Frazier, Jonathan Wallace, Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson were fair game for the defense Wednesday.
"It brings a new aspect to the scrimmage because I've never been in a scrimmage where they've been live before," Holland said. "It gives it a game-like feel, and that's what they want."
Or, as Malzahn said, "Tackle football. Real football, like you're going to see in the very first game."
Malzahn took the unusual step of the live practice because he's trying to narrow the field so he can have a smaller rotation in practice so the two primary quarterbacks will get the primary work.
Of course, he needs to name a starter, too.
"They want to see who can get out of tough situations. I think our guys handled it that way," Holland said.
Malzahn needs to evaluate, and quickly.
"When it's not live, you're blowing the whistle, and you don't know if they can break a tackle, you don't know if they can escape pressure. It gives you a chance to evaluate them," he said.
"I thought it was very important, especially when you're trying to evaluate four guys, to give them a chance to make plays, just like a regular football game."
Malzahn said Frazier, Wallace, Marshall and Johnson "had fairly equal reps." Certainly, all four got a chance with the first and second-team offenses.
"The big thing is when you're evaluating guys, and you've got four of them, you have to narrow things down," he said. "T way to do that is to go live. I've done that before, and I felt like it was important that we did that now."
Overall, he said, "I saw some good things."
Auburn didn't release any stats from the closed scrimmage, though players afterwards recounted at least three touchdowns and a few interceptions.
Malzahn didn't say who did the best.
"There were so many plays, so many guys rotating in and out, there was nothing that really stands out. But there were some plays. The good thing is there were plays on offense and plays on defense," he said. "There were things we need to correct, but at the same time, both groups made plays."
Auburn will hold its first two-a-day practice session Thursday. But that was coming only a late-night film session of the scrimmage.
"Hopefully, we can learn some information where we can at least start narrowing it down," Malzahn said. "I'm not saying we're going to for sure, but that was the goal of this scrimmage."
Watch Gus Malzahn's post-scrimmage interview:
Charles Goldberg writes for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: