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Malzahn's 3 goals for Auburn


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Gus Malzahn's 3 goals for Auburn this spring

Wesley Sinor | wsinor@al.com

Auburn held its first of 15 spring practices Tuesday afternoon as fifth-year head coach Gus Malzahn laid out three tasks for his players.

"We have three goals going into spring, really pretty simple," Malzahn said. "Our No. 1 goal is that our players have a great understanding of the base offense and defense.

"We're going to be very simple like we've been in the past. We just want to make sure that the players know the proper techniques, assignments, alignments and everything that goes with that, so that once we get done with spring and get into summer, they can actually improve."

Auburn has three new coaches on staff -- offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey, H-backs and tight ends coach Larry Porter and secondary coach Greg Brown. They are replacing Rhett Lashlee, Scott Fountain and Wesley McGriff, respectively. Time will tell how the players adapt to their schemes and coaching styles. 

"Our second goal is to identify the strengths in all three phases," Malzahn said. "After spring ball, we'll identify those things and we'll get a plan to build around our strengths as far as fall goes."

On offense, Auburn has brought in new dual-threat quarterback Jarrett Stidham. Many believe the former Baylor standout will ultimately win the job over returning starter Sean White, backup John Franklin III and redshirt freshman Woody Barrett. White is expected to miss most if not all of spring practice while he recovers from the broken arm he suffered in the Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma in January.


Is Stidham Auburn's missing puzzle piece?

Is Stidham Auburn's missing puzzle piece?

If there's one player Auburn fans are excited about as the Tigers open spring practice today, it's Jarrett Stidham.


Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson return at running back. The wide receiver group is young but promising, and the offensive line will need to replace two starters in Alex Kozan and Robert Leff. 

Auburn figures to be strong on the defensive side once again, but will need to replace Montravius Adams and Carl Lawson on the defensive line. The linebacker corps of Deshaun Davis, Tre Williams and Darrell Williams returns. Auburn loses starters Josh Holsey and Rudy Ford in the secondary but has lots of experience coming back.

As for special teams, back-to-back Lou Groza Award finalist Daniel Carlson returns for his final season. Ian Shannon is expected to replace Kevin Phillips as the starting punter. The Tigers lose Ford and Marcus Davis in the return game.

"The last goal is just really simple: Each player improve," Malzahn said. "At the end of spring, I'm going to get with each position coach and ask them about each one of their guys. Did they improve from Day 1 to Day 15?"

The Tigers are coming off an 8-5 season in 2016, but many believe Malzahn's team will be better as a whole this fall. In a roundup of "way-too-early" top 25 rankings by major media outlets in January, Auburn ranged from 11th in the country to 19th. A strong spring could set the stage for Auburn  to be in the mix in the SEC West once again.

Auburn's spring practices will run from Feb. 28 to April 11. The annual A-Day spring scrimmage is set for April 8 inside Jordan-Hare Stadium.


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I would add a goal of the staff identifying eleven players on offense who can carry us down the field on an 8-10 play drive without having to substitute. ;)

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