The wait is finally over. Football season is finally upon us.
Auburn opened fall practice Monday, and head coach Gus Malzahn was pleased with his team’s first practice.
“Overall, I thought it was a good first day,” Malzahn said. “Our focus was on our older guys in the first part of practice. I was looking for effort, attitude, body language and just flying around. I thought for the most part our veteran guys did that.
“The second part of practice was so we could focus on our young guys, and slow down a bit. There’s quite a few of those guys that we are going to need to help us on Saturday’s. It gave us a chance as a coaching staff to really slow down and work with those guys. I thought for the most part, they had a solid day too.”
Auburn’s depth was on full display in its opening practice, and Malzahn noted how his team’s depth could be one of his team’s most important features this fall.
“The quality depth really has a chance to be one of our strengths,” Malzahn said. "It’s just a matter of who the starters are going to be.”
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterbacks Jarrett Stidham and Sean White rotated with the first team offense. Malzahn said the two signal callers will have a chance to compete before a starter is named.
“I think the simplest answer for that is who gives you the best chance of winning. There’s a lot of things that go with that,” Auburn’s fifth-year head coach said about what it will take to earn the nod at quarterback for Stidham or White.
“Both guys are competing at a high level. Malik (Willis) worked more with the younger guys. I thought he did some good things. There’s nothing better than competition. It brings out the best in everybody.”
Running backs Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson also rotated snaps with the first and second team offenses.
Nate Craig-Myers, Darius Slayton, Kyle Davis and newcomer Sal Canella took snaps at wide receiver with the first team. Eli Stove, Will Hastings, Ryan Davis and John Franklin III were split out wide with the second team offense.
Up front on the offensive line, Darius James, Marquell Harrell, Austin Golson, Mike Horton and Braden Smith took the snaps with the first team.
“Up front, we have some good competition. Coach Hand was mixing and matching up front,” Malzahn said. “This first, probably, two weeks, offense is going to be some great competition. Really feel like things will start to settle in after that two-week mark.”
Malzahn also announced several roster moves, including Jason Smith’s move to the defensive backfield. Jaylen McGriff also made the move from wide receiver to defensive back.
Signee Carlito Gonzalez failed to qualify academically and is in the process of searching for a junior college, Malzahn said. Four-year walk-on Mike Sherwood is planning on graduating and playing his fifth and final year of eligibility elsewhere.