War Eagle Extra

Team planning to spend much of fall camp behind closed doors

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn walks around the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium before the program's spring game.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn walks around the field at Jordan-Hare Stadium before the program's spring game. mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn doesn’t want anyone — media, fans and opponents — to see how the team is shaping up this fall.

Who is taking the lead in the quarterback competition? What receivers are standing out? How does the revamped group of linebackers look?

Auburn wants to keep a lid on all those answers as they prepare for the season-opener against Clemson at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Sept. 3.

The Tigers are set to open fall camp Wednesday at 2:55 p.m. with a practice at the university’s athletics complex. Five straight days off practice will culminate in first padded session of the fall on Sunday.

The official practice schedule announced Tuesday contains few opportunities for the media to watch meaningful practice reps. Reporters have a brief window to watch the first 20 minutes of practice four times this fall, but none of them come after the first week.

Many schools open practice up to their fans for at least one practice during the fall. New University of Illinois coach Lovie Smith recently announced he was opening all 16 training camp practices to the public.

Auburn isn’t scheduled to have an open practice at all this summer, but will have a “Fan Day” on Sunday, August 14. The details of the experience have yet to be officially revealed.

Last year, the event was held at Auburn Arena where fans gathered to mingle and get autographs from Auburn players.

The practice schedule contains few surprises considering coach Gus Malzahn’s long-stated desire for secrecy, but is at odds with the confidence he expressed in this year’s team just two weeks ago at SEC Media Days.

“They've had a very good offseason, very good spring,” Malzahn said of his players. “Our team unity is very strong, and our leadership is very strong. They are really stepping up and being accountable to each other and not just the coaches and that’s very critical.”

It wasn’t the only time Malzahn expressed the sentiment this offseason.

The coach believes Auburn has the talent and revamped coaching staff to right the ship following a pair of disappointing seasons. Fans are going to have to take his word for it with the coach unready to reveal how far the Tigers have come since last year’s 7-6 finish.

Michael Niziolek: 334-332-8572, @wareagleextra