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Football Notebook: New day, new team, new attitude

Aug 27, 2013

Offensive tackle Shon Coleman could get his first Auburn game action Saturday night (Todd Van Emst photo)

AUBURN, Ala. - Since Dec. 4, when he was introduced as Auburn's head coach, Gus Malzahn has been talking about "a new day" at Auburn. Saturday, that day will finally arrive when the Tigers open their season against Washington State at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Auburn players say it will be a new day and a new team with a new attitude.

"Everybody is confident in each other," junior cornerback Jonathon Mincy said Tuesday. "We can look over to the next guy beside us and know this person is ready to go to war with us. That's something you look for as a team, just that chemistry and bond with each other."

Senior linebacker Jake Holland agreed. There is more closeness, he said, and more trust.

"We're like one unit," Holland said. "We are closer, and we play that way. I think that is going to be a definite aspect of this team, how close we play and how hard we fight for the guy next to you."
--Phillip Marshall

A special moment for Shon Coleman

Offensive lineman Shon Coleman will be on the depth chart and is in line to finally play for Auburn. He signed with the Tigers in 2010, overcame cancer, was redshirted last season and is ready.

"We're very proud of Shon," said coach Gus Malzahn. "You talk about a guy that's been through some adversity and dealt with adversity and then came back. He's had a lot of ups and downs, and this'll be a special moment for him and for me personally just seeing him out on the field. He's like a fan favorite, and he should be.  Really looking forward to him running out there and being in the mix."
-- Charles Goldberg

Freshmen in line for playing time

Gus Malzahn didn't provide a number, but said "quite a few" of his freshmen will play in the opener.

"I would say the majority of them will play," he added.

Freshman wide receiver Marcus Davis will play. Fellow freshman wideout Tony Stevens could. He missed the first of fall camp with an injury.

"We're hoping" he'll be available, Malzahn said.
-- Charles Goldberg

Melvin Smith makes impact on cornerbacks

Cornerbacks coach Melvin Smith, who moved from Mississippi State to join Malzahn's staff, has had a significant impact on his players. They talk about the lessons he teaches about football and life. They talk about Mississippi State cornerbacks Jonathan Banks and Darius Slay being picked in the first round of the NFL draft last spring.

Smith tells his players there are three keys to success: 1. Humble yourself, 2. Govern your temper, 3. Sponsor yourself.

"That's something we live by just being in that corner room with him," Mincy said. "Just being able to be able to watch tape of those great corners he had last year, we take pride in that. If he can coach them, he can coach us."
--Phillip Marshall

Holland cautious about targeting rule

Holland says the new rule that calls for automatic ejection for targeting a defenseless player has gotten plenty of attention in preseason camp.

"Coaches definitely put an emphasis on that," Holland said. "... You want to play aggressive, but you don't want to play too aggressive. If you have a good, fundamental tackle, there shouldn't be an issue."
--Phillip Marshall

Paying attention to detail

Redshirt freshman guard Alex Kozan didn't sign with Malzahn, but he has seen first-hand a key to his success.

"Coach Malzahn is a very detailed coach," Kozan said. "He notices things most coaches don't see. He'll point that right out to you. He's been working with us and trying to get this offensive unit to gel. It's been coming together pretty nicely the last couple of practices."
--Phillip Marshall

Intense focus for Dismukes

Kozan said he's seen a different side of junior center Reese Dismukes.

"Reese has been a leader since I got here," Kozan said. "This season, even since spring started, he's really focused in. Even in meetings, he's really locked in. He doesn't joke as much as he used to at all. He's focused and ready to have a great season."
--Phillip Marshall

Ford fits in at cornerback

It's only a matter of time, Mincy said, before freshman Rudy Ford makes an impact at cornerback. Ford, a freshman from New Hope, moved from running back during preseason camp.

"He just has that sense of urgency," Mincy said. "He always wants to learn. He's always asking questions. That's something you like in a young DB. We love him, and we're glad we have him over there."
--Phillip Marshall

The running game

Gus Malzahn said tailbacks Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne "are on pretty much on equal ground right now.

"Corey Grant is a guy who you can see in the mix, too."

"Definitely he's a speed guy, but he's a strong guy. And he can do the different things we ask our tailbacks to do. You could see him doing just like Tre and Cameron."
-- Charles Goldberg

In the booth

Auburn receiver coach Dameyune Craig will be in the booth offensively; defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson will be upstairs for the defense Saturday.
-- Charles Goldberg



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