AUBURN, Ala. — After a week off for spring break, Auburn returned to the practice field Tuesday. Being back was the only positive Gus Malzahn could take from the Tigers' first session in 12 days.
The way the coach saw it, Tuesday's showing left much to be desired.
"It was a little sluggish, you could tell our guys had been off for a week. The tempo wasn't quite what it was the first five practices," Malzahn said. "That’s what I challenged them at the end of practice. 'Hey, we've got that first one back out of our system. We need to come back Thursday and really rebound and get better.'"
Ricardo Louis said the key for he and his teammates to shake off the rust was simply to get back into the flow of things.
"After spring break, everybody’s minds is kind of in spring break mode," the rising senior receiver said. "(We're) trying to get back to fast-paced offense and hitting-hard defense with the tempo and everything."
Linebacker Kris Frost said having wandering minds was no excuse. Frost, who will be a senior this fall, admitted the team "had some issues getting lined up" and weren't moving around as they did prior to spring break. He expects that to change come Thursday, though.
"This team doesn't really lack when it comes to effort," Frost said. "We're always out there trying our best to fly around, and making sure we have everything polished up as far as the plays and getting lined up correctly, and the urgency."
Part of the problem, Frost believed, is that he and his fellow defenders are still trying to familiarize themselves with the new scheme brought in by Will Muschamp.
"It's something we have to learn, something we have to adjust to," he said. "I feel like we've been doing a good job of it, but we have to get in extra. The more work we put in off the field and outside the mandatory meetings, the better off we will be."
Whatever the reason for the less-than-stellar performance Tuesday, Malzahn wants the team to get dialed in as soon as possible.
"We’re getting to the point where we’ve got a few more days of install and we should have everything on both sides of the football, really all three phases, put in by the end of the week," he said, "and then we can really focus on all the other things that go with it the last five or six practices."