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Harsin: 'Physically, we’re much better than we were a year ago.'


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Bryan Harsin: 'Physically, we’re much better than we were a year ago.'

Taylor Jones
6-8 minutes

When Auburn football hits the field on Sept. 3 against Mercer at Jordan-Hare Stadium, they will look to erase the sour taste of ending last season with a five-game losing streak.

To do that, the team needs to showcase more physicality in order to win the battles in the trenches.

On Thursday, head coach Bryan Harsin spoke with the media ahead of Auburn’s first session of fall camp, where the topic of physicality was discussed. Harsin says that he is pleased with where the team is in that aspect.

“That’s one thing about this game – we can talk about mindset, is a guy tough enough and all that – if you physically can’t whoop somebody, it’s hard to go out there and have confidence,” Harsin said. “We needed to physically get ourselves better, and we did that. So, we’re physically better now and as we get through these 25 practices or so, we’ll find out what we look like in pads and how physical we really are. That will tell us more about this team.”

With a team that features a quarterback battle and unknown identities at wide receiver and in the defensive backfield, Harsin stresses the need to have both lines as strong as possible, to better carry the load.

“As our o-line and d-line prepare through this training camp, that’s really going to be how this team goes – up front with those two groups,” Harsin said. “I think we’ve got some good d-linemen. I think we improved in those areas, and that will help our o-line improve as well.”

Harsin addressed several topics during Thursday’s media availability, here are a few highlights:

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AP Photo/Vasha Hunt

It’s training camp for a reason. Everything that we’re doing over the course of this next month is all to get prepared for the season. We’re putting everything in. We’re talking about the rules. We’re talking about situations. We’re going through just about everything that will come up. At least we hope we’re hitting most of those things, and that’s what we’re going to be focused on. We’ve got seniors on this squad that this will be their last time to get a chance to do this here. For us, it’s a big day.

So, opening day, (we) get everybody here, make sure everybody is good, and then we start practice on Friday because right now everybody is 0-0. Nobody has won a game. Nobody has played a game. The opportunity is right in front of us, so what we do in training camp is going to be extremely important to our success for the rest of the season. If you haven’t been through it, it’s hard to appreciate the day-to-day grind that these guys go through. I know the NFL players, you get to see on some ‘Hard Knocks’ and things like that, but for coaches and players to lock in and really come together and build that chemistry through the game of football and spend this much time together, it’s a really, really important time.

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Jake Crandall/ The Montgomery Advertiser

It’s talking season, so while we’re practicing and all that, there’s speculation of what could happen and what everybody thinks until you actually go out there and play, and the beauty of playing is you get to settle the score in the arena. You don’t talk about it — you get to actually go out there and play — so all of this work that we’re doing and what our guys have been doing since January, it’s all going to come together; hopefully that shows up on September 3rd and we go out there and play, and then from that point on, we’re into the season.

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Todd Van Emst/AU Athletics

I’m proud of our guys for the work they’ve put in. I’m excited where this team is at. I like this squad. We’ve got a lot of work to do, a lot of things to improve. Most spots are open for competition. Our guys know that and they’re going to go out there and compete, but they’re also going to help each other out. They’re going to bring value to whatever their role is. They’re going to bring value to their teammates and coaches and then we’ll go out there and make the decision on who the starters are going to be,  but everybody on this team is going to help us win. That is a message I want to make sure they understand. You may not think so, other people may not think so, but the guy waving the towel on the sideline — they don’t know he was the scout team linebacker that week playing against a really good defense that we’re probably going to face — they’re really important to our success and they matter.

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AP Photo/Butch Dill

All of these guys going through this for three, four, five years, there’s a reason why when they leave here, they’re going to be successful. They’re not afraid to grind. They know how to work, and they can push themselves. Through the game of football, we’re developing a lot more than just wins on the football field. We want that. We’ll get that. I know this team is capable of it. But that is what camp is all about. We’re going to talk about those things tonight, then, we’ll get ready to go tomorrow and get into that schedule I just told you.

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Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For two days we’re split, just having the young guys in the afternoon — They get to kind of see it installed, they get to see the practice that the older guys have a chance to go through, and they get to go out there and execute it. And then they get to watch themselves later that evening. With the older guys, we’ve been doing things all summer, the OTAs — it gives you a chance to kind of slow it down a little bit and teach a few more things, some of the details that our guys have already heard that were here in January and guys that were here last year. It just gives us a chance for two days to really make sure what we need to emphasize because I think the first two or three days is kind of your DNA that you’re getting in.

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Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

You want to make sure you’re very clear on the expectations, what we need to get done, and the questions get answered. And so having the two practices, for the coaches it’s a little bit of a grind to get back out there and have the two practices. But that second one is really good for us to be able to teach. And then I think what you find out from your older guys, too, is some of those guys get out there and they’ve already practiced earlier in the day, but they come out and help. They get a chance to be around, and the younger guys are like, ‘What do I do on this?’ You start getting that player-to-player coaching. And that helps.

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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

He was here. He’ll be here tonight. He’ll practice tomorrow. We’re aware of what’s going on.

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I’m not disappointed in what Hars, Kiesau, and Schmedding are saying and I’m pretty impressed with overall improvement in player physique and attitude - the ones I’ve seen and heard. Is increased player football IQ a thing? Really fun hearing our players speak. Is it just me, or are they looking and sounding more like the guys in post game interviews on Sundays? This is a weird feeling. It’s strange. Is this what optimism feels like?

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I just want opposing teams to say “damm those boys are tuff. That was a game. “ I want our guys to play so physical that regardless of the out come the opposing team leaves bruised and beaten like 5 round MMA championship fight. 

Edited by AlaskanFAN
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