Gus Malzahn says Auburn got off to a good start in its preparation for the Birmingham Bowl
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― Gus Malzahn brought a little holiday cheer to his backups and scout team players in Auburn's first practice for the Birmingham Bowl on Monday.
"We let those guys play some football. They were very excited," he said. "It was good for our coaches to see those guys, and really it was good for our coaches to spend some quality time with those guys."
Auburn looked at its young guys with a different set of eyes, at least on defense after the departure of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson. Malzahn said linebackers coach Lance Thompson will call the defense and graduate assistant Blake Gideon will coach the secondary for the Dec. 30 game against Memphis. Defensive analyst Travis Williams will coach the linebackers, as he did in last year's bowl game. Rodney Garner will stay with the defensive line.
"I feel very good about those guys," Malzahn said.
Malzahn said he'll continue his search for a defensive coordinator and that he has "not officially offered the job to anyone.
"I feel good about our timetable and feel good about getting the right guy."
Malzahn said he felt good about Monday's practice, as well.
"Half the practice was devoted to our older guys, just to get their base fundamentals back. They really responded well, had some great energy. The other part of practice, which is probably the most important at this point, is developing the young guys.
"Everyone practiced today, so I expect everybody to be ready for the bowl."
Malzahn said Auburn will start on the game plan Thursday and he'll have a better idea about his quarterback rotation by then. As usual, Jeremy Johnson and Sean White are the contenders for the position.
"Our goal in these first three practices is just get better with what we do," Malzahn said. "That's a big advantage with these bowl practices for that development of your guys as far as fundamentals ― development of your young guys and also evaluate your young guys, because a lot of these guys have been on the scout team all year.
"You can watch them, but when they start doing your offense, your defense, your special teams, they’re actually competing for positions, so it’s a really good thing as far as that goes."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine