Offensive stars turning heads as football finishes first week of spring practice
After the first week of spring football, the defending SEC champions and BCS National Championship runners-up are setting higher expectations for this season.
"Overall, I thought it was a solid first week," said head coach Gus Malzahn. "I feel like our guys want to practice and they want to get better. They've got the right attitude."
Malzahn pointed out how the difference in this year's first week of practices and last year's is the way his team is approaching each practice.
"I like where we're at as a whole group," Malzahn said. "The way we're approaching each practice with the effort and focus. The way they're responding to coaches. We still need to improve. We're never going to be satisfied. That's probably been the thing I've been most pleased with. Our guys are understanding how to practice."
Malzahn said he has noticed improvements in younger players, such as Carl Lawson and Peyton Barber, but has also has seen a great difference in Nick Marshall.
"It's just the way he carries himself," Malzahn said. "You can tell he's a bit more comfortable. He had a solid first week."
Marshall said he will be more vocal next season.
"I'm expecting to be [a captain] but if not I will still lead by example," Marshall said. "I'm very comfortable, I know everything about the offense now."
Marshall is also looking forward to being a more balanced quarterback next season by throwing the ball more.
"I'm excited about that," Marshall said. "I like throwing the ball."
One of the newcomers that Marshall will be throwing it to is junior college transfer D'haquille Williams, who is already impressing coaches and teammates.
"He's a freak, he's a monster," said tight end C.J. Uzomah. "He's getting after it making unbelievable catches down the field and making plays with his feet. I'm really excited to see what he can do."
Malzahn said he has been impressed with the former No. 1 overall recruit.
"He's off to a good start as far as his ability to learn and effort and everything that Coach Craig and Coach Lashlee are asking him to do," Malzahn said. "He's made some very good 1-on-1 plays, too."
The Tigers are also using these spring practices to work on improving their tempo on offense, as if last year's offense was not fast enough for them.
"We've been in the system before, now Coach Malzahn wants us to pick it up," Uzomah said. "He said last year was nothing compared to the speed that we want to run next year. We're ready."