AUBURN, Ala. — If there’s one thing Gus Malzahn will never change about his coaching philosophy, it’s a commitment to being physical.
Depending on the makeup of his team from year-to-year, however, other aspects can be altered. Take Auburn’s approach to scrimmages this spring. In its most recent scrimmage, which took place Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium, Malzahn made the decision to split it into a half-practice, half-scrimmage. In the “practice” portion, the more experienced players took precedence.
When the Tigers moved on to the “scrimmage,” younger members of the team were the center of attention.
“There were some of the guys that were starters last year that we knew a lot about that didn't participate in the scrimmage,” Malzahn said afterward. “Overall it was good for us to get some information on some guys. The emphasis was on building depth.”
The coach admitted it was “good” that there are so few position battles to sort out this spring, as it has allowed the Tigers to focus on other areas. He contrasted it with last spring; at that point, just a few months into his tenure, he and his coaching staff were worried about simply installing their offensive and defensive schemes.
Now, the Tigers are well past that, beginning to incorporate wrinkles they normally wouldn’t get to until fall camp.
Just don’t think Malzahn is anywhere near satisfied.
“We haven't arrived. Don't get me wrong — we do know a lot about our guys, (but) we've got to finish this thing,” he said. “We've got two more weeks. That's what I just told them. We've got two more weeks and we've got to put the hammer down and we've got to make sure we get better.”
When asked what he wants to see improve before the A-Day game rolls around April 19, Malzahn, as one would expect, replied “overall execution” in every aspect.
“We're starting to get people in positions and they've got plenty of reps and now they've just got to get better at what they do,” he said.
Once Saturday’s film is evaluated, the coaching staff will have a better idea of where the team stands.
From there, they’ll plot out how they want to handle the final six sessions of the spring.
“We'll get a good plan for the next two weeks, whether that is more tackling or less,” Malzahn said. “We'll be for sure A-Day, we'll put the ball down and let it rip.”