March 30, 2013

Hittin' time

AUBURN | Finally, some tackling.

The Tigers' third spring practice Saturday was their first in full pads, which brought out a new level of aggression. Coach Gus Malzahn said the addition of full-contact drills to the frenetic practice pace his prefers elicited some introspection among players.

"I thought there was some guys that really tried to (hit hard) and there's got some guys that we've got a really long way to go," the coach said. "At the same time, a lot of them are in shock with … the pace, everything that goes with that. Fatigue is a factor. We've got to get them in our type of playing shape."

Auburn's two-hour workout was split between position group instruction, "pace versus defense" drills and, toward the end, some true 11-on-11 work. The offense executed plays against the defense, though the ball was spotted at the original line of scrimmage regardless of the play's success or failure.

Malzahn said Friday that full-contact team drills are where the best players shine. They rise above their competitors.

He didn't see much of that Saturday.

"It was scripted stuff, but it was tackle football," Malzahn said. "It gave our coaches a chance to see how we block, how we protect the football, everything that goes with playing real, live football."

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