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August 18, 2013

VIDEO: Gus Malzahn, C.J. Uzomah and Jay Prosch meet with media members

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — After Auburn named Nick Marshall its starting quarterback and safety Demetruce McNeal was dismissed from the team following an arrest on Saturday, anything else that took place became trivial. However, head coach Gus Malzahn, tight end C.J. Uzomah and H-back Jay Prosch met with reporters, with video of their interviews provided below.

Malzahn

Uzomah

Prosch

August 17, 2013

Auburn football: Gus Malzahn says team is closer to naming starting quarterback

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn gets closer to naming its starting quarterback each day.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn observed quarterbacks Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson from the sideline on Saturday. He hoped the different vantage point will aid in narrowing the starting quarterback race. (Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn observed quarterbacks Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson from the sideline on Saturday. He hoped the different vantage point will aid in narrowing the starting quarterback race. (Todd Van Emst/Auburn University)

Head coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday there was still a bit farther to go, however. Though the Tigers chose not to hold their scheduled scrimmage, the coaches were still able to run quarterbacks through specific drills that will factor into the final decision.

“We put them in some blitz pickup situations. We did 7 on 7,” Malzahn said. “We ran our offense from the sideline and started to try to be as game-like as possible.”

Malzahn said he and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee changed their perspective on Saturday — literally. Normally, the two line up behind the quarterbacks during practice and monitor their every move. To keep with the “game-like” feel they wanted, Malzahn and Lashlee watched from the sideline.

“We wanted to see how they reacted, just with the way they handled their teammates, the way they handled calling out different things and all that,” he said. “We learned a lot today.”

Senior fullback Jay Prosch said it has helped offensive flow working with only two quarterbacks this week, as Jeremy Johnson and Nick Marshall have received all the snaps with the first-team offense. Jonathan Wallace is still in the running for the starting job, according to Malzahn, while Kiehl Frazier decided to move to safety last Sunday.

“It helps a lot,” Prosch said of the narrowed race. “Either way we’re still going to be doing the same thing no matter who is at quarterback, but it’s nice to have a few guys you feel comfortable with back there.”

Tight end C.J. Uzomah said working with fewer quarterbacks has made it easier for receivers, too.

“We know how each quarterback throws and the timing,” he said. “Having that narrowed down, (we have) been able to say on this route where the ball is going to be (and) how fast it’s going to get there.”

Uzomah said Wallace has the best grasp of the offense — specifically “the protection and things” — after having an entire spring to learn Malzahn’s system.

“Nick and Jeremy, they’re kind of rusty with the offense in general, just because they’re not familiar with Coach Malzahn and the offense,” Uzomah said. “However, you know, they make plays with their legs, and they have the ability to extend the play. I think all three of them have that, but I think they all kind of have their different niche.”

Which one will fill the niche as the Tigers’ starter?

Malzahn said he will sit down with Lashlee and try to get that settled Saturday afternoon.

“We’ll see where we’re at,” he said. “We’ll come up with a plan leading up. We understand we’d like to name the starter sooner rather than later.”

August 9, 2013

Scott Fountain says Gage Batten ‘really coming on’ at H-back (and quotes)

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — The light is starting to come on for Gage Batten.

Tight ends/H-back coach Scott Fountain praised the progress of Gage Batten since switching from linebacker this summer. (File photo)

Tight ends/H-back coach Scott Fountain praised the progress of Gage Batten since switching from linebacker this summer. (File photo)

After struggling during the first few practices of fall camp, the former linebacker has started to turn the corner on grasping his responsibilities as an H-back. The redshirt freshman’s improvement has been significant, according to his new position coach, Scott Fountain.

“These last two practices, he’s really come on,” Fountain said. “We felt like if we could bring him over (to the offense), he could be a good blocker for us on our power, our counter game. It’s what we needed, and he’s starting to show a lot of promise. I’m really excited for the young guy.”

Batten’s position change took on more importance after Ricky Parks was dismissed for a violation of team rules on the first day of fall camp. Parks exited the spring as the Jay Prosch’s backup. Fountain said if Batten was still on defense, it likely would have meant an increased role for both C.J. Uzomah and Brandon Fulse at H-back.

He’s just glad that situation is only a hypothetical at this point.

“(Batten) making the progress that he has really got me very, very excited,” Fountain said, “regardless of whether we would have had (Parks) or not.”

 MORE FOUNTAIN QUOTES

On the improvements he’s seen from Prosch, Uzomah and Brandon Fulse:

“C.J. is a guy I told after the spring, ‘The thing we’re going to have to get you better at is run-blocking. I want you to focus on that this summer.’ And in camp I’ve been super impressed with how far he’s come. I see a guy that I feel like can really help us as a split-side tight end and in the backfield, whereas Jay is kind of a backfield guy at heart. Then we’ve got Brandon Fulse who has stood out at the 5 and at tight end. … And at times, you’ll see them on the field together.”

On Prosch’s pass-catching:

“I knew he could block this spring, but I wasn’t sure what else he could do. And boy, he’s a guy that can catch, and he just keeps getting better and better. He’s a guy that we can trust catching the football.”

More on Fulse’s progress:

“He’s more focused in terms of what we’re doing in our route game. He’s a guy that can block fairly well coming out of spring. In high school he (played) in tight spaces, and now we’re doing a lot more of that with them. He’s a guy that’s an emerging player in practice, so I’m expecting some big things out of him this year, too.”

On Uzomah’s versatility allowing him to play at nearly any offensive skill position:

“He’s a guy that No. 1, is willing to do it. You’re normally catching the ball, and now you’ve got to put your hand down and block Dee Ford. So that part is really hard. And then once past that, then you’ve got the mental aspect of learning the different positions. There is some carryover, but I think he’s the guy who’s most versatile for us, and those guys are really hard to find.

On how much his background as a high school quarterback helps:

“Coach Malzahn is really big on wanting to sign quarterbacks and inserting them into the offense. And I think that’s been really big for (Uzomah), but I also think his approach to it. There’s no question his quarterback background in high school him understand the whole grand scheme of coverages and fronts and things like that.”

August 8, 2013

Been busy lately? Links to all recent Auburn content in one place

Auburn A-Day Jordan-Hare Stadium

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Look, we all lead busy lives.

So believe me, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you’re not caught up with everything that has been posted on WarEagleExtra.com since Tuesday. That’s more than understandable given the prodigious production of content over the better part of 48 hours. To wit: There have been a whopping 19 items added to the blog during that span.

But there’s no reason to scroll through page after page to read every story and watch every video — especially when we’ve compiled them all right here in one handy dandy post.

Whether it’s a notebook, practice report, a player profile or a video interview — or perhaps something else entirely — you’ll find it below. (And for your convenience, each item is sectioned accordingly.)

NOTEBOOKS

8/6 — Tigers cut Tuesday practice short to focus on first scrimmage of fall

8/7 — Defense believes it won first scrimmage of the fall ‘hands down’

8/8 — Malzahn pleased with toughness of quarterbacks, disappointed with energy at Thursday morning practice

PRACTICE REPORTS

8/6 — Tigers don full pads for first time, Demetruce McNeal inactive once again

8/7 — Offensive line coach J.B. Grimes absent from first scrimmage of fall

PRACTICE VIDEO

8/7 — Quarterbacks run read-option, Cody Parkey works on point-after attempts and field goals

VIDEO INTERVIEWS, POST-PRACTICE

8/6 — Ellis Johnson hopes defenders ‘will start to polish things up’ in coming days

8/6 — Rhett Lashlee says coaching staff ‘learned a lot more’ about offense during last two practices

8/6 — Gus Malzahn: Tigers ‘very physical’ in shortened Tuesday practice

8/7 — Senior H-back Jay Prosch glad to be ‘able to hit somebody’ in first full-pads practice

8/7 — Junior wide receiver Jaylon Denson predicts newcomers at position will play ‘a lot in the fall’

8/7 — Gus Malzahn: Tigers treated scrimmage ‘just like a regular football game’

8/8 — Running back Corey Grant ‘saw a lot of positive things’ from quarterbacks during scrimmage

8/8 — Safety Jermaine Whitehead excited enough for season he would ‘play in the parking lot’ if need be

8/8 — Gus Malzahn: Film of scrimmage provided ‘some good information’ on quarterbacks

PLAYER/POSITION PROFILES

8/6 — Rhett Lashlee: Quarterbacks ‘are bringing themselves along nicely,’ but battle still far from over

8/6 — Tigers still trying to sort out playing time at linebacker

8/7 — Kris Frost fighting to establish himself as Auburn’s starting middle linebacker (w/video)

8/7 — Quarterbacks take licks and dish them out as no-contact ban lifted during scrimmage

August 7, 2013

VIDEO: Senior H-back Jay Prosch glad to be ‘able to hit somebody’ in first full-pads practice

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Senior Jay Prosch spoke to reporters following Tuesday’s practice (the first in full pads this fall) and discussed the rotation at H-back since Ricky Parks was dismissed from the team last week. He also talks about what he’s looking to get out of the Tigers’ scrimmage on Wednesday, which will take place at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

August 6, 2013

Auburn notes: Tigers cut Tuesday practice short to focus on first scrimmage of fall

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s players got a bit of a reprieve on Tuesday.

With the team's first scrimmage of the fall on tap Wednesday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made the decision to cut Tuesday's practice short. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

With the team’s first scrimmage of the fall on tap Wednesday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn made the decision to cut Tuesday’s practice short. (Photo by Todd Van Emst)

The fifth practice of the fall marked the first time the Tigers had on full pads, finally giving players the chance to take part in contact drills. But it didn’t last for long, as head coach Gus Malzahn made the decision to end practice early.

No need to get players too banged up with the first scrimmage of the fall set to take place on Wednesday, after all.

“We just want to make sure everybody gets to the scrimmage somewhat fresh and has a chance to mentally prepare because it will be a big scrimmage for us,” Malzahn said. “Not only for players, but (for) the coaches evaluating them.”

Jay Prosch couldn’t want to get back inside Jordan-Hare Stadium for the first time since the A-Day game.

“Really just looking for the plays, people getting the plays right, lining up right, being fast and execution, obviously,” he said. “That’s what getting everybody working together as one unit. That’s what I’m looking for mostly and hopefully we can do that.”

The senior was also pleased with the Tuesday’s practice, since the burly fullback never shies away from an opportunity show off his physicality.

“Finally able to hit somebody instead of using your hands and slowing down before contact,” he said. “So it was nice.”

Fellow senior Craig Sanders is equally anxious for the scrimmage to arrive. The defensive end said the coaching staff told them to treat it like the first game of the NFL preseason.

“During the scrimmages we have to show out because they’ll start evaluating us,” he said. “That will determine who is going to be on the scout team and who is not going to be on the scout team.”

Malzahn said the format for the scrimmage will involve only the most basic schemes offensive and defensively.

“The main thing is to evaluate our players and try to put them in different situations,” he said. “Really, (just) try to get on the field to make plays.”

Malzahn continues stonewalling on quarterbacks

In what has become routine since fall camp opened, Malzahn talked only in generalities about the quarterback race. In fact, he refused to even address any of the four candidates for the job by name. But Malzahn did say “the two new guys” — junior college transfer Nick Marshall and true freshman Jeremy Johnson — are starting to get more comfortable with the offense.

“You can tell, as far as the procedures pre-play and I think they’re getting a better understanding,” he said. “We’re putting our installs in, so there’s a lot going on.”

Marshall did make one mistake during the portion of practice open to reporters. While working on handoff drills with Cameron Artis-Payne, Marshall mishandled the exchange and fumbled the ball away.

Malzahn didn’t make much of it, though.

“As a coach you make sure, no matter what it is, that ball security is very important to us and it starts with the quarterback,” Malzahn said. “He just got here. He’s learning the expectations and everything that goes with that.”

When asked how much closer the coaching staff is to naming a favorite, Malzahn said the team continues to stay “open-minded.”

“There’s some ups and downs and stuff like that,” he said. “One guy plays better each practice than the other, but I think they are all four solid quarterbacks.”

And it should go without saying how important the scrimmage will be when the coaching staff begins to mold the positional depth chart. Regardless, Malzahn said Marshall, Johnson, Jonathan Wallace and Kiehl Frazier have been reminded of the scrimmage’s significance.

“I really believe they’ll be ready,” Malzahn said. “There’s nothing better to evaluate a quarterback than a scrimmage situation with live bullets coming and everything that goes with that. Some people find a way to raise their level and some people get a little nervous.”

Second-team offensive line mixes up rotation

Jordan Diamond has been practicing at right guard with the second-team offensive line since the beginning of fall camp. But Will Adams was in his place at Tuesday’s practice.

Malzahn said it was just a matter of rotating players into different personnel groupings.

“We try to give them opportunity with different groups and all that until you get to the scrimmages,” he said. “(Then) things will start taking care of themselves, but right now we’re just trying to give them some opportunities.”

Quick hitters

Malzahn confirmed that safety Demetruce McNeal missed his fifth practice of the fall and 10th in a row dating back to the spring, still recovering from a minor surgical procedure caused by an infection. Malzahn expects the senior to be back at practice “in the next few days.” … After Ricky Parks was dismissed last week, Prosch said Gage Batten has been getting the lion’s share of reps behind him at H-back. “He came over from linebacker, so he’s been adjusting,” Prosch said. “He’s never blocked before in his entire life so he’s been adjusting to that but he’s done a really good job. (He’s) finally starting to feel it out and get a good hang of it.”

August 4, 2013

Auburn notes: Quarterbacks struggle with turnovers for third straight day, Gus Malzahn touts team leaders

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra | Like the blog on Facebook

AUBURN, Ala. — For the third consecutive day, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn kept any information regarding the team’s quarterback battle close to the vest.

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said  Sunday that the four quarterbacks fighting to be the starter had problems with turnovers for the third straight day. (File photo)

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Sunday that the four quarterbacks fighting to be the starter once again had problems with turnovers. (File photo)

One difference on Sunday was that the Tigers started to mix-and-match the units the four candidates took reps with. Malzahn couldn’t remember, however, whether newcomers Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson took snaps with the first-team offense.

“I believe (offensive coordinator) Coach (Rhett) Lashlee tried to rotate them, at least with a different group than they’ve been working with,” he said. “They’ve only been working with the younger guys, and both of them rotated with the older guys.”

There was still little separation among Marshall, Johnson and the veteran pair of Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace. That might change once the coaching staff has a chance to sit down and break down film from practice, though.

“When you have a whole lot of reps and you’re going quick, there’s some good, and you really just (need to) get in the (film) room and see things,” Malzahn said. “All positions are being evaluated a lot better once we were in shells, and the quarterbacks were no different.”

Tight end C.J. Uzomah was impressed with the level of play from the quarterbacks on Sunday. He was surprised how well they moved around during the first day in “shells,” which consists of helmets and shoulder pads.

“They warmed up well and we had a lot of individual periods with them,” he said, before running down a list of the specific period numbers. “Once we started getting our timing and mesh correct in 7-on-7 and one-on-one in team periods, they looked spectacular, really.”

Malzahn didn’t share Uzomah’s sentiment, focusing on the mistakes his signal-callers made. The team’s first three fall practices have been marred by quarterbacks struggling with their decision-making.

“There’s always going to be turnovers when you’re rotating four quarterbacks, so it’s just a matter of protecting the football, making good decisions,” he said. “We’re going to put these quarterbacks in a lot of different situations, so there’s a lot of plays. There’s some good, there’s some bad. That’s to be expected when it’s that type of setting.”

Regardless, Malzahn said it’s still “too early right now” to make any proclamations about the eventual starter, which is the same approach he takes with every position on the field.

“You gather information at every position,” he said. “But at this point it’s way too early for me to be able to stand up here and tell you we’re going to be able to make it earlier rather than later.”

Team leaders remain the same

While Malzahn provided little insight on how the quarterback battle is shaping up, he had no problem highlighting the players he views as the team’s leaders.

All are pretty familiar faces, since it’s the same group who took on those roles during the spring: center Reese Dismukes and fullback Jay Prosch on offense and hybrid safety Justin Garrett and cornerback Chris Davis on defense.

They just haven’t had a chance to make their voices heard at practice yet — for good reason.

“You’ve got to understand that we’re straining them,” Malzahn said. “It’s hard to be real vocal when we’re practicing at the pace we are.”

Quick hitters

Malzahn said safety Demetruce McNeal sat our practice for the third time in as many days. “But he’s getting better,” Malzahn said. The Tigers have yet to specify why the senior hasn’t participated in the first three days of fall camp, other than to say he’s battling an undisclosed “medical issue.”

August 3, 2013

Auburn notes: Gus Malzahn addresses depth at H-back, updates quarterback race

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra

AUBURN, Ala. — After Ricky Parks was dismissed for a “violation of team rules” on Friday, Auburn’s depth at H-back took a hit just one day into its fall camp.

Following the second day of fall camp on Saturday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn both the H-back and tight end positions will have to be reshuffled to address depth issues. (File photo)

Following the second day of fall camp on Saturday, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said both the H-back and tight end positions will have to be reshuffled to address depth issues. (File photo)

Parks came out of the spring as Jay Prosch’s backup at H-back on the Tigers’ two-deep depth chart. Gus Malzahn isn’t worried, though.

Auburn’s head coach said they’ll just have to move some players around a bit more.

“Right now, we’ve got C.J. Uzomah doing a little bit,” Malzahn said Saturday. “Obviously Brandon Fulse has done that before. We’re kind of playing around with Gage Batten and a couple of other guys. They’ll be more defined probably in the next two or three days, because that position is also a position that when you have pads on, you can properly evaluate better than you can with just helmets.”

Uzomah and Fulse also are expected to share snaps at tight end. Malzahn said the position was something the team is “still working through.” Like H-back, the tight end spot will have various players shuffled in and out to bolster the unit.

“There’s three or four guys that we’re talking about,” said Malzahn, though he declined to name specific players.

No separation in quarterback battle

Those hoping to see much of an update in the Tigers’ four-way quarterback battle will have to keep waiting. Malzahn said Saturday’s proceedings were “similar” to Friday’s, though he noted newcomers Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson looked more comfortable on Day 2.

“We’re throwing a lot at them, just from the sideline,” he said. “They’re feeling more comfortable with (the) sideline (calls). They were able to relax a little bit more and play football.”

Meanwhile, veterans Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace continued to show their command of the offense, much the way they did during spring practice.

“Any time you’re comfortable doing something and you’ve been through a spring and you kind understand what to expect and different looks (it helps),” Malzahn said. “There’s nothing like experience.”

Sunday’s practice will take on a different look than the first two days, as Malzahn said the signal-callers will “mix and match” more.

But the coach cautioned they’re still in the early stages of what figures to be a long race to decide who starts against Washington State on Aug. 31.

“We won’t throw them into the fire until we think they’re ready,” Malzahn said, “but it’ll be very quick.”

McNeal inactive for second straight practice

Safety Demetruce McNeal made progress in one area on Saturday: He put on a helmet for the first time this fall. However, just like Friday’s practice, he sat out team and position drills for the second straight day. Malzahn said he expects the team’s top returning tackler to be back at full speed “fairly soon.”

“It’s not anything major,” Malzahn said. “We just want to make sure he’s 100 percent before we get him back out there. He’s a veteran guy and has a lot of experience.”

Despite his inactivity thus far, Malzahn was confident the senior won’t miss a beat when he rejoins the secondary and attempts to capture the starting spot at boundary safety.

“He’ll have a chance to compete for playing time, just like the rest of them,” Malzahn said. “But he does have experience, and that usually helps.”

Quick hitters

Wide receiver Trovon Reed has been one of four players fielding punts at practice the first two days of fall camp. He said there haven’t been any muffs — yet. “I don’t want to jinx us,” he said. … Defensive back Joshua Holsey said he picked off a pass during practice. Wallace was the unlucky victim. “It came off a tipped ball, so I was fortunate to get a good one today,” he said. “I’m sure we’ll probably get some more to try and catch them slipping.” … Prior to Saturday’s practice, two Tigers received their bachelor’s degrees in commencement ceremonies. Defensive back Ryan Smith majored in Public Administration, while defensive end Craig Sanders was a Human Development and Family Studies major.

July 19, 2013

Auburn notes: Rhett Lashlee Quotes

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra

Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee spoke with reporters for over 20 minutes on Friday at the Auburn Athletic Complex.

Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee spoke with reporters for over 20 minutes on Friday at the Auburn Athletic Complex.

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee met with media members on Friday morning in the Rane Room of the Auburn Athletic Complex. He spent six minutes (out of what amounted to a nearly 22-minute interview) discussing the team’s quarterback situation. Since all of those comments on the quarterbacks couldn’t (reasonably) be fit in today’s notebook, why not include them elsewhere?

The following is a roundup of some Lashlee’s other quotes, of the quarterback and non-quarterback variety.

On the start of the season:

“I know I’m excited. The coaches are excited. We’re starting to get into the football meetings as a staff — talk more ball, talk more install, talk more fall camp, which, when you get to that point, you know it’s close. I know our players are ready, just talking with (strength and conditioning) Coach (Ryan) Russell. They’ve worked extremely hard this summer from what he’s told us, but they’re even getting to the point, ‘All right, we’re ready to put the helmet on, put the pads on and be out there and start getting ready to play somebody.’ But we’re excited. The guys have worked hard and we’ve had great participation from what we’ve been told. We’re just ready to get started.”

On giving more reps to Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson since they’re the newcomers in the quarterback race:

“I don’t know if it’ll necessarily be more reps, but like I said, I’m going to have to get creative in maybe the way we put them in certain situations, just to make sure. At the same time, in fairness to Kiehl (Frazier) and Jonathan (Wallace), from what I hear they worked extremely hard this summer. I would think they’ve made great strides since the spring. So all four guys are going to get a fair and equal shot. That’s just the way it is.”

On Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s remarks at SEC Media Days, where he reiterated his view that up-tempo offenses like Auburn runs lead to more injuries for defensive players:

“I don’t have a reaction to his remarks. Coach (Gus) Malzahn addressed that. As far as I’m concerned, pace and tempo, that’s our philosophy, that’s who we are and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re never going to do anything to put our men in physical jeopardy. Coach addressed that. That’s our philosophy and that’s the kind of team we’re going to be.”

On whether the up-tempo offense is safe

“Oh, there’s no question. As I said, we’re not going to do anything to put anybody in harm’s way and we’ve not had a history of any issues with injuries. Every coach has their philosophy of playing. That’s our jobs. We’re committed to the tempo and to the pace, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

On whether he had ever heard complaints about the up-tempo offense before:

“Never really did. A lot of the teams in the state I grew up playing in (Arkansas), a lot of people run that system, largely because of Coach Malzahn. But no, I’ve never heard that argument much, and never have really had any issues with it.”

On whether critics have much of an argument regarding why the offense is a safety hazard:

“We all play within the rules. You know what the rules are. We know, hey, if we substitute a guy, that they’re going to stop it and hold the ball, and we understand that, too. That’s another thing that you’ve got to factor into it that keeps us from probably going too fast.”

On fullback Jay Prosch:

“The thing about Jay when I first came here, I remember thinking, ‘That’s good. We’ve got a guy who can block.’ Because you’ve got to have that guy in nearly any offense that runs the football, but in what we do in a two-back scheme (it’s even more important). But what I was really pleasantly surprised that when I got here was that he’s extremely intelligent, which helps at that position for us. But he’s a pretty good athlete. He runs well, believe it or not. He’s got that short, stubby arms (but) he catches the ball well.”

July 18, 2013

SEC Media Days, Day 2 Leftovers: Quotes from Auburn’s player representatives

BY RYAN BLACK | rblack@ledger-enquirer.com

@wareagleextra

HOOVER, Ala. — Auburn players Dee Ford, Jay Prosch and Chris Davis met with assembled media members on Day 2 of SEC Media Days at the Wynfrey Hotel.

Senior fullback Jay Prosch joined defensive teammates Dee Ford and Chris Davis at SEC Media Days on Wednesday in Hoover, Ala.

Senior fullback Jay Prosch joined defensive teammates Dee Ford and Chris Davis as Auburn’s player representatives at SEC Media Days on Wednesday in Hoover, Ala.

The following is a roundup of some of the trio’s quotes:

Jay Prosch, Senior Fullback

On the team morale since Gus Malzahn arrived:

“It was completely different as soon as Coach Malzahn came. It was a new attitude. He started a fire in everyone; it’s really exciting.”

On being named spring ball MVP:

“It means a lot. It really defines me as a player and everything that I work for, and everything I do is to get an honor like that and for the Coach to say something like that about you.”

On not having a set starting quarterback:

“It’s kinda hard for receivers with timing with different players, but the four guys we’re looking at now, we support them and work with them now.”

On how things are different after his mom passed away:

“Transferring in, I wasn’t really close to any particular guys. I was only close to them through football. Then when that happened- when they say ‘AU family’ they mean it- everyone had my back supporting me, and it created a bond I didn’t have before. I really feel like those are my brothers out there.”

On having a passing game in the SEC:

“It’s extremely critical; you have to have a double threat. You can’t just have a run game. You can’t just have a pass game. You have to have both.”

On the new atmosphere in the locker room:

“Bringing in the new staff brings in a new attitude for all the players. It has really sparked us. The guys came out with fire and intensity to work hard in practice; it went viral. It’s really good to see and exciting.”

Dee Ford, Senior Defensive End

On preseason expectations with new coach Gus Malzahn:

“As much winning as we are destined for. If you put in the work during the week, there’s no telling how much winning there can be. The difference in this year’s team is we have the same guys but more mentally tough and mature.”

On what happened last year at LSU:

“Confidence. I believe as a football player, when you put in tons of work- and work doesn’t start in fall camp it starts way back in the spring semester- to not get the results you want, you definitely lose confidence. Clemson and LSU were two of my best games last year, and I think I played differently in the second half because of confidence.”

On bonding as a team:

That’s what we’re doing now at workouts. Everything we do is team-oriented. Every workout we do, every movement we do, it’s almost like a military-thing, but it’s not. It’s football. Any one player mess up, we understand. Anything you do, you’ll be held accountable.”

On whether he’s having fun during the offseason:

“This is the most fun I’ve ever had in summer workouts. I’ve definitely changed my whole body without even knowing it. I feel like I’m working without even working because I’m having fun, but of course I’m a workout junky.”

On the changes in the defense:

“Strength and conditioning that we’ve gone through- our bodies have changed. We have more guys that are able to contribute that didn’t contribute last year. We have a lot of guys that are ready to turn it on.”

On what he picks up when he watches film of Auburn and other teams:

“I look at what works and what doesn’t work. I evaluate from the worst pass rushers to the best and the mistakes they made. It’s really not about the players. It’s about what they’ve done. I’m looking at their actions. What are they doing, why aren’t they doing it, and just try to help teach them if I know it’s something I know doesn’t work.”

Chris Davis, Senior Cornerback

On the improvement in the team since the end of last year:

“We made no improvements; we’re just ready to get back into the season and take it one game, one day, one practice at a time and see where that takes us.”

On the team’s up-tempo offense:

“It is keeping us in shape, but with Coach Malzahn being here before, we’re kinda used to it. We knew what he would bring to the table, but yeah, we’re more in shape.”

On regaining confidence:

“You develop confidence in practice. You keep doing something until you get it right. It’s like chemistry; everything’s gotta be clicking for confidence to come back, and leadership’s gotta be there.”

Frustration with Alabama winning championships:

“I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating. I’d say it is what it is. It’s a new day. That’s in the past; this upcoming season will tell it all.”

On seeing so many fans at the spring game:

“It was very inspiring because during the season when we’re down you see some of the fans leaving the game, but they say they’re back on the ‘Gus Bus,’ and we all are, and seeing those fans brings back hope to the players and fans.”