BY RYAN BLACK | email@example.com
AUBURN, Ala. — The only pause of Gus Malzahn’s press conference on Friday spoke volumes.
Much like his hurry-up, no-huddle offense, the head coach breezed through every question of his media briefing following Auburn’s first practice of the fall. That is, until he was asked how well the four quarterbacks battling for the starting position fared on Friday.
Malzahn paused for six seconds before he finally responded.
“There were a few mishaps,” he said, “but that’s to be expected.”
The reps were divvied up “pretty equal,” with Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace taking the snaps in the first portion of the practice. In doing so, Malzahn wanted newcomers Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson to “sit back and watch and see how everything went.”
They got their turn soon enough, however.
“The second part, the two new guys got all the reps in the rotation,” Malzahn said. “So I’d say overall, it was very equal between the four of them all day.”
Making sure every member of the quartet receives approximately same number of snaps is quite a challenge, Malzahn said, but he’s comfortable with the strategy the coaching staff designed.
“There’s a lot that has to do with our offense (that involves) communication from the sideline before the play starts,” he said. (So) it’s good for them to get the reps.”
The Tigers divided the whole of their first fall practice much the same way they allocated quarterback reps, breaking it into two parts. In the first half, the team’s experienced players took precedence, as coaches wanted them “to show the younger guys the pace, the expectations.”
At the halfway point, the team slowed things down to allow the coaching staff to spend more time with younger players at every position.
“It just felt like we needed to do that, and we’ll do the same thing tomorrow,” Malzahn said. “Then we’ll see where we’re at.”
All in all, Malzahn believed it was a successful first day of fall camp. He wasn’t surprised by anything that occurred — and that’s exactly how Malzahn wanted it.
“It was hot out there outside early, (so) it was good to be out in the heat to see how they reacted,” he said. “I really expected them to be ready to practice and for the most part, they were.”
McNeal sits out practice, Parks dismissed
Safety Demetruce McNeal, the team’s top returning tackler, was at practice Friday but did not participate. Malzahn said the reason for the senior’s absence could be blamed on an undisclosed illness.
Auburn’s coach downplayed the severity of it, though.
“He’s got a medical issue he’s working through,” Malzahn said. “It shouldn’t be much longer and we really expect him to make a full recovery.”
While McNeal will return at some point in the near future, Malzahn announced that another player is no longer a member of the Tigers. Tight end/H-back Ricky Parks was dismissed for what Malzahn called “a violation of team rules.”
“It’s like I’ve said before — we have high expectations for our players on and off the field,” he said. “We wish (Parks) nothing but the best.”
Another Tuberville on the Plains
Malzahn was pleased to have walk-on quarterback Tucker Tuberville make his Auburn debut Friday after redshirting at Texas Tech last season. He’s the son of former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville, who led the Tigers from 1999-2008.
“He wants to be a coach. He’s a coach’s son,” Malzahn said. “Great kid and loves Auburn. We’re glad to have him back.”