April 17, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn hasn't put the finishing touches on his A-Day Game plans, but promised Wednesday he will "make this thing as close to a game as possible for our fans, and also for our coaches."
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And, of course, for the players.
"It will be great for us to evaluate the guys in front of a crowd and see how they react," Malzahn said.
A-Day kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium with a depth chart with plenty of openings. Malzahn has purposely not identified his starters this spring.
"We've not put guys as far as starters, or second-team," he said. "We will have two separate offenses and two separate defenses and try to make it as close as a game as we can."
What will fans see? Malzahn said it's "status quo" for quarterbacks Kiehl Frazier and Jonathan Wallace, meaning they're close after a spring of the principles of the new coaching staff.
"Base offense and defense. We're not doing a whole lot fancy," Malzahn said. "We're trying to get good at a few things. There hasn't been a whole lot of scheming on offense or defense, but that's by design.
"There's no doubt we've improved. Are we there yet? No, we're not there yet. But our guys are still starting to buy in, they're starting to understand. We're starting to play more as a team."
Malzahn said Wednesday was "a good physical practice again today. It's really right in the middle of the grind.
"We've talked about getting physically and mentally tougher, and this is the time you push through. Our coaches are challenging our guys."
•Malzahn said running back Tre Mason returned to drills Wednesday. He's been limited the last two weeks with an injury. Receiver Melvin Ray missed practice.
"A little banged up, but everything should be fine," Malzahn said.
•Malzahn will be one of the speakers at the final roll of the Toomer's oaks after the game.
"It's one of the best traditions in college football. For the Auburn family, it's really unbelievable," he said. "I'm looking forward to being a part of it after the A-Day Game. I know that will be very special."