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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tuesday practice: Late notes and quotes

Not a whole lot to report from the late session of interviews, but here we go anyway:
  • Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn reiterated the players' contention that the offense didn't move as fast as he would have liked. He said it is common for the first week of the season. "I think until they get out in a game (it's a concern)," he said. "You can do so much in practices and scrimmages and all that, but when you get your first game the reality hits about how fast you can actually go as far as the officials will let you. We are changing personnel in and out more than we’d like. That’s where we’re at as a program. We’ve got to use a lot of different personnel and that slows us down. But really, us being urgent, our communication, getting lined up and running the play, can be a lot more effective."
  • The fact that the Tigers are switching personnel so much is a factor in slowing things down. "Ideally, you’d keep 11 guys on the field that can do every formation you need," Malzahn said. "But right now, we’re not there yet. We’ve got to play different people to go to their strengths. Each year we should be more effective in keeping 11 guys on the field with all the formations."
  • Being able to physically be able to move at that pace for an entire game remains a work in progress. "We've got to get in better shape," right tackle Andrew McCain said. "It's hard -- especially with us being a little thin up front. At practice, they've been trying to not kill us. At the same time, there's a fine line between keeping guys healthy and making sure we're in shape enough to run 85 or 90 plays."
  • Auburn ran 79 plays. Malzahn thought that was OK, but not great. "I would say that’s close," he said. "We would like a little more than that but that’s close."
  • McCain had a good quote about the coaches not being satisfied with the first game: "They don't want anybody to get ahead of themselves. It's one game and there's a whole lot more to come. It's one of those things where we said: We're going to enjoy this Saturday night. That's the fruit of all the labor we've put in. Then the labor starts over again the next day. They've worked hard to put it in perspective for us that we've got a long way to go."
  • Players said they weren't getting the ball to the official fast enough after the end of the previous play. Malzahn was not sympathetic to their problem. "It shouldn’t be (a problem)," he said. "We’ve been coaching that since we’ve been here. We’re very precise on our expectations. We’ve got to do a better job in those areas."
  • LB Craig Stevens said he played over 60 snaps. That's a heck of a lot for a linebacker. "I'm not gonna lie though, I was tired in the first half because I had to run down on the first kickoff and then they had a long drive right after that and it took me a while to get my breath back," he said. "Once I got my breath back and got my second wind, I was OK."
  • Auburn ran at least a dozen snaps out of the Wildcat formation with pretty good success. Kodi Burns, the triggerman in the formation, thinks he was close to breaking a couple of runs. "I definitely think it has a lot more potential for it to be better than it was," he said. "Because if you notice, the guys who were tackling either Onterio (McCalebb) or me were in the secondary. I guess it’s a pretty good sign we can get on those guys. We just have to be able to make them miss and go all the way. With the Wildcat, I think we’re just scratching the surface, and there are a lot of different things we can do."
  • Stevens on defending the Wildcat: "It's not too much different from a regular offense. It just opens up another gap, basically. It just adds another gap that you have to cover. Once you figure out which gap you have to fit in the offense, I think you'll be all right in the Wildcat. It's mostly just having an athlete back there running it. They're able to expose just one person who fit wrong and they can find that back and crease you. You have to make sure you fit right in those types of plays."
  • Stevens, like most of the defenders, had fond memories of last year's 3-2 win against Mississippi State. "I just remember it being a fight," he said. "It was a fight the whole game, but the defense -- we just went out confident every time. I remember that. We never lost our poise or anything like that. We were still playing around on the sidelines. I remember before the last drive when Walt (McFadden) got the interception, me and Mike McNeil were playing around because it was a TV timeout or something. We were playing around on the field. That was a fun game."
  • Unlike some other defenders, he didn't find it awkward to win that way. "I was happy with the win," Stevens said. "3-2, I knew that was gonna get talked about all night on TV. It was kind of weird with it being a soccer score, though. It was kind of crazy."
  • That doesn't mean Stevens wants to have many close games like that this year. "No," he said. "I want all our games to be blowouts. 64-7."

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