Auburn concluded its ninth overall spring practice and first day of full tackling on Monday. Gus Malzahn said that quarterbacks were full participants in tackling drills.
However, the wait for a quarterback depth chart continues.
“It was good for our quarterbacks to go live, we got some really good information,” Malzahn said. “There wasn’t one thing that stood out, it was just good to see how they operate the offense, how confident they are and their communication. I learned a lot about the approach of the quarterbacks. I think they handled it all very well.”
Malzahn added that having his quarterbacks go live helped the coaching staff understand the decision-making processes behind the different quarterback options. Whether they would scramble, tuck the ball and run, or stand in a collapsing pocket and pass.
An emphasis during spring practice is to have the team understand what Malzahn deems as the “standard,” the head coach said.
“The big message we tried to relay to our players was understanding the standard," Malzahn said. "Anytime we put the ball down to play tackle football, the effort, the urgency and everything that goes with it was the big message today.”
Malzahn praised the effort of both the veteran and younger, second-string players during practice, adding that the team went back to the "basic fundamentals."
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The player that received the most praise was junior wide receiver Marquis McClain, who has mainly served as a backup while finishing with two catches in his first two seasons.
“I think he has started to take that next step to become that guy we can rely on,” Malzahn said. “He is the guy that really stood out to me from a skill position standpoint. I think he is more confident and he wants the ball. He has ability and he was one of the highlights from the whole scrimmage.”
Sophomore running back JaTarvious ‘Boobee’ Whitlow said that the addition of Cadillac Williams as the team's running backs coach has added a new perspective to practices.
“We learn a lot of different things we hadn’t had," Whitlow said. "We learn different small stuff that change our whole perception of running the ball. Having him on our side, I know we will have a great year.”
Whitlow said that Williams is making the running backs focus on getting their shoulders squared before the snap of the ball, eliminating the backs leaning the direction of the play in the backfield and running tighter to the line of scrimmage.
“I never knew that one little step could change my whole perception of running the ball,” Whitlow said.
On the opposite side of the ball, Whitlow said that he has been mentored on patience and leadership by linebacker K.J. Britt.
“I have never been the type to lead,” Whitlow said. “I have to take the next step I have to trust, I have to be more trusting… It’s a learning curve.”
The second-year running back added that he was impressed by Joey Gatewood's improvement going into his second season.
“[Gatewood] has grown a lot,” Whitlow said. “He is really coming along. He knows what to do, he know how to move. Joey is a freak.”
Auburn will practice again on Wednesday in advance of the team's spring football game on April 13.
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