Auburn players all dressed up with somewhere to go...
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn says it's time to play like it's game day.
That's why he's ordering up a dress rehearsal Friday for his players, the last stop before a Saturday off day that will put the Tigers seven days away from the season-opener against Arkansas.
"We'll get everything fine-tuned," he said.
Thursday's practice was a lot like the others. "Our attention has been really good, and our guys have been excited about practicing." But there are substitution patterns to go over, headphone checks and other assorted things to master before playing in Jordan-Hare.
The Friday practice will cover "just everything from personnel to situations. In fall camp, we've covered every situation imaginable, but you want to do it again just so it sticks with them throughout the season. Because once the season gets here, you're in a routine, you're game-planning and trying to be very specific. Different situations come up on a game-by-game basis that you covered in fall camp. It gives us another opportunity to cover every situation so our guys we'll know what to do when it presents itself."
Then, "we'll give them a chance to revive their minds and bodies and get to relax a bit because it's been a grind. Fall camp has been long. It's been good, but obviously we want our guys fresh."
Auburn will return to practice Sunday, like any other game week, and they'll return relatively healthy.
"I'd say probably most teams have a lot of nicks and bruises and all that in fall camp, that’s part of the process. Strategically, you make sure your guys or healthy and fresh before the first game and we’ve definitely started that process," Malzahn said.
• Malzahn said running backs Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant are ready.
"They know every bit of our offense, which is very important. The first game will be about our adjustments, and those guys are capable of doing that. Now, Peyton Barber and Roc (Thomas) have both gotten a lot of reps also. You've got to have your running backs ready."
• Malzahn predicted they'd be "quite a few" newcomers play against Arkansas. Any hints?
"We’ll have our depth charts out next Tuesday, same time we did last year as far as first games go."
• Malzahn said former Auburn coach, and still Auburn resident, Gene Chizik will do "extremely well" as an analyst on the SEC Network. ESPN announced Chizik's new position Thursday.
"I have a lot of respect for him as a coach and a person. He gave me a great opportunity and think he’ll do very well," Malzahn said.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine