Auburn's Gus Malzahn said Tuesday's practice wasn't so hot as the evaluation process continues
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Defensive end Carl Lawson, the talk of preseason camp, didn't scrimmage last Saturday because Gus Malzahn played it safe, and smart, with some of his established players.
In the world of evaluation, the Auburn coach was working all the angles, giving his backups and rookies a chance to step up, to impress, to land on the depth chart.
"We wanted to give some other guys a real good opportunities. Overall, it was a really good day," Malzahn said.
"Anytime you give those young guys reps, specifically with the ones or the twos, they get a chance to really show what they can do and see if they can work within the system. I know Will (Muschamp) has his eye on a few of those guys and feels like a few of those freshmen are definitely going to help us."
The Tigers practiced Sunday, then returned in earnest Tuesday for a fast practice in full pads.
"Overall, I wasn't real pleased with the way our team responded, specifically the offense. They've got to come out there in a better frame of mind, execute better," he said as Auburn neared the midway point of preseason work heading toward the Sept. 5 opener against Louisville.
"We've been going two-and-a-half weeks and what are we? About two-and-a half weeks from the game. It's kind of right in that middle and you've got to reach deep down in. Your leaders really got to step up and answer the bell."
• Malzahn said walk-on defensive back Mike Sherwood and walk-on defensive lineman Aaron Garrison were awarded scholarships.
"Both of them are just excellent young men," Malzahn said. "Both of them have sacrificed a lot and really helped our team in other ways, so we were really happy to make that happen. Those guys earned it."
Auburn linebacker Justin Garrett lines up with Sherwood on defense, and said he's happy he received a scholarship.
"You wouldn’t believe it. He works so hard. He comes out there to battle every day," Garrett said. "I was surprised — I think the whole team was surprised, because I think he's just a redshirt sophomore and that's one of the earliest I've seen a player get a scholarship in this program since I’ve been here.
"Sometimes he maybe got overlooked because he was a walk-on. But he’s one of the best cornerbacks in the rotation. It feels good for him to earn what he worked so hard for."
• Muschamp kept pushing his defense Tuesday.
"Will is trying to establish our defensive identity and it starts with being physical," Muschamp said. "Our kids have responded. It has been good, specifically up front. We want to run the football and stop the run, and there has been some good practices from a physical standpoint."
• Duke Williams, who was knocked out of Saturday's scrimmage with a twisted ankle, was back Tuesday, Malzahn said.
• Malzahn said Auburn is still working on Auburn. Before the week is done, it will start turning its attention to Louisville.
"We're still in the evaluation process and trying to get us figured out," Malzahn said. "It will be this week that we will start that transition. Then we’ll go full force for two weeks preparing for our first opponent."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine