Auburn notebook: Malzahn notices improvement from start to end of camp
by Ryan Black
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
Aug 20, 2013 | 1817 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUBURN -- Auburn's practice Tuesday had a game-week feel to it.

Following the Tigers' 21st and final practice of preseason camp, head coach Gus Malzahn said his team is already "full force" into planning for the season opener against Washington State on Aug. 31. But first, he recapped his first preseason camp at the helm of Auburn's program.

"When I look back on the whole camp, I felt we did improve," Malzahn said. "I felt like we were able to cover all of our situations. I felt like we were able to put our guys into situations to evaluate."

The Tigers' offense also ended camp on a high note, with Malzahn noting the unit had its "best rhythm that we've had" since he took over as coach.

"That's a good thing," he said. "It looked like we knew what we were doing today, and the timing was very good."

WASHINGTON STATE THOUGHTS: Though Washington State went 3-9 last year, it beat arch-rival Washington in the season finale. In his early look at the Cougars, Malzahn he came away impressed with what he saw.

"They have the majority of their guys coming back," he said. "We're expecting it will be a good team coming in here, and we'll have to play well."

However, making any comparisons between the two up-tempo offenses would be a mistake, Malzahn said, since he prefers to lean on a strong running game, while Washington State head coach Mike Leach passes at nearly every opportunity.

With that in mind, Auburn's defensive linemen are already licking their chops.

"I think pretty much everyone knows that sacks equal moneymakers," junior defensive end Gabe Wright said. "But definitely this whole technique, this whole change of defense and starting off (getting up the field) vertically, that's going to set everything up. If it's a run play, we've got stick it. If it's a pass play, we've got to work off the pass-rush. I definitely can't wait to get out there."

DEE FORD: Malzahn said senior defensive end Dee Ford didn't participate Tuesday because of a knee injury, and his status continues to be day-to-day.

"It's hard to say right now," Malzahn said.

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Monday that Ford wouldn't play in the season opener. Fellow defender Justin Garrett, who is dealing with a foot sprain, did not practice Tuesday, either, and Malzahn hopes to get him back "by next week."
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