BY AARON BRENNER | firstname.lastname@example.org
AUBURN, Ala. — Some news and notes to report from the first spring practice in the Gus Malzahn era. Remember, we only see 30 minutes, which mostly includes stretching and a few individual drills:
– The Tigers are already working on the hurry-up, no-huddle, gone-in-sixty-seconds formations. The entire offensive unit was huddle near the sideline, then race to the ball – spotted at the 40-yard-line. They simulated four handoff plays with no switching personnel, capped by coaches yelling ‘Score! Score!’ and all eleven players mock-celebrating in the end zone. The entire exchange was followed by some up-downs on the sideline. Fast, fast, fast.
– The No. 1 no-huddle units: QB Kiehl Frazier, RB Corey Grant, H-Back Jay Prosch, LT Shane Callahan, LG Jordan Diamond, C Reese Dismukes, RG Chad Slade, RT Patrick Miller, Slot Trovon Reed, outside WRs Sammie Coates and Jaylon Denson.
– No. 2: QB Jonathan Wallace, RB Cameron Artis-Payne, H-Back C.J. Uzomah, LT Shon Coleman, LG Tunde Fariyike, C Alex Kozan, RG Michael Sulka, RT Avery Young, Slot Brandon Fulse, outside WRs Melvin Ray and Ricardo Louis.
– No. 3: Frazier, RB Tre Mason, H-Back Quan Bray, LT Greg Robinson, Diamond, Dismukes, Slade, Miller, Reed, Coates and Denson. As you can see, some jumbling from what you’d expect from a normal depth chart.
– One time when the managers, wearing referee shirts, weren’t prompt with handing out the necessary equipment for a particular drill, running backs coach Tim Horton barked, “Let’s go, let’s go.” Fast-paced was the only pace.
– Number changes to report: cornerback Jonathan Jones is now No. 3 (was No. 21 last year); cornerback Jonathan Mincy is now No. 21 (was No. 6); wide receiver Ricardo Louis is now No. 6 (was No. 5.)
– Early enrollees from the junior college ranks: No. 44 RB Cameron Artis-Payne, No. 50 DT Ben Bradley, No. 53 Devonte Danzey
– The offense wore blue, the defense wore white, and the quarterbacks were in don’t-hit-me orange
– The four quarterbacks in orange: No. 10 Kiehl Frazier and No. 12 Jonathan Wallace on scholarship, No. 17 Ben Durand (new walk-on) and No. 19 Tate O’Connor (returning). Of note: Frazier has put on eight pounds since the end of the 2012 season (up to 234), and Wallace is up 12 pounds to 209. Both QBs are listed at 6-foot-2.
– Quan Bray, who played quarterback in high school, worked out in some read-option drills along with Frazier and Wallace. Of course, graduate assistant Kodi Burns was close by offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rhett Lashlee in their first tutoring session.
– The timing on some midrange routes was pretty good for practice No. 1. But a few of the deep routes were understandably off-target; while Uzomah looked good going deep, even guys like Prosch and Ricky Parks were asked to haul in throws 30 yards downfield.
– Units were switching between the inside and outside practice fields on a sunny but chilly spring morning, with each session lasting five minutes.
– Offensive tackle Avery Young and offensive guard Jordan Diamond look healthy coming off injuries. Diamond was the only O-Lineman in knee braces.
– Several dozen visitors were prowling the sideline, including many from Opelika High School. As the Opelika-Auburn News’ Mike Szvetitz noticed, Opelika grad Corey Grant scored the first touchdown of spring drills.
– Words heard multiple times Wednesday morning: Go. Hurry. Run. Move. These are going to be some caffeinated, cock-a-doodle-doo workouts.