April 9, 2013

Spring ball: Bisected and dissected

AUBURN | The second half of spring practice begins Wednesday morning with some important questions answered.

Yes, the same Gus Malzahn who said as a coordinator that pace is negotiable is now the head coach who settles for nothing less than frenetic pace. Yes, the coaching staff was serious about giving every single player a chance to impress regardless of past successes or failures.

Yes, this program is getting healthy again in more ways than one. There is no doubt that the cloud of pessimism that settled over the Athletic Complex last October has dissipated. The sun shines brightly on the Plains these days, which is perhaps more meaningful than any other change Malzahn has sparked during his four months as head coach.

What else have we learned?

Here's a look at several people, trends, ideas that have caught my attention during the past two weeks of early-morning practice and mid-morning scrimmages. I haven't seen much in terms of full-speed drills, which makes the task of assessing this team much more difficult, but what happens on the field only tells part of the story.

That's what I keep telling myself, anyway …

  • The situation at quarterback is muddled -- just as I expected. Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace still are getting used to the speed at which Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee want to operate. That pressure falls squarely on the shoulders of Auburn's two scholarship quarterbacks, who must administrate things for the entire team while at the same time handling their own responsibilities in a world where 10 seconds is an eternity. I don't expect anyone to be named the No. 1 guy until late August. This staff still needs to see what Nick Marshall and/or Jeremy Johnson can contribute before making any firm decisions.

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