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Auburn Spring Practice 2015: Day 4 Wrap-Up

A collection of notes, tweets, and stories from Day 4 of Auburn's Spring Practice

Coach Tavaris Robinson (left) and Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp. Auburn Spring Practice in Auburn, Ala. on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.
Coach Tavaris Robinson (left) and Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp. Auburn Spring Practice in Auburn, Ala. on Tuesday, March 10, 2015.
Zach Bland / Auburn Athletics

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Beautiful 80 degree spring day for a little football. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Auburn?src=hash">#Auburn</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/oanowsports">@oanowsports</a> <a href="http://t.co/iuEcfyhmOd">pic.twitter.com/iuEcfyhmOd</a></p>&mdash; Todd Van Emst (@fototodd) <a href="https://twitter.com/fototodd/status/577937964875034624">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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The Tigers had their fourth practice of the spring today on this sunny and warm St Patrick's Day. Here are some tweets, stories, etc. For many of the directly observed reports by the beat writers, bear in mind that these are from very brief windows of time that they're allowed to observe practice, so we don't know full details.

Position News

Offensive Line:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>First-team offensive line: Shon Coleman (LT), Alex Kozan (LG), Austin Golson (C), Braden Smith (RG) and Avery Young (RT).</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577938271256363008">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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KOZAN! We know he's going to be limited, but it's still excellent to see him working with the first team. Hopefully he's 100% ready to go by the fall. We knew from earlier reports this spring that Avery Young had kicked out to Tackle and Braden Smith was playing Guard, so those are no surprises, either.

It'll be very interesting to see how this unit finishes up. Last we heard, there was a three way competition for the Center spot between Golson, Xavier Dampeer, and Deon Mix. Devonte Danzey is another strong option at the Guard position, where he played a good bit of the 2014 season as a starter when Pat Miller was injured. Austin Golson has experience at the tackle spot if needed, and one of the others can step in at Center. It's nice to see some depth or shift options that don't appear like they would be much of - if any - a drop off.

Running Back:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Roc Thomas was getting the first-team reps at running back alongside quarterback Jeremy Johnson.</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577938375811985408">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Again, remember this is just four practices in and we're only getting notes from the open viewing portion. I won't say I'm shocked to see this, though. Roc Thomas is an excellent back with a ton of potential, and he's spent a year working under Gus Malzahn's offense and with Jeremy Johnson. I'm sure those two have excellent chemistry on the reads right now, and his experience with the offense puts him a step up.

For what it's worth, Justin Hokanson indicated Robinson and Sean White were interchanging in a four-square rotation with Thomas and Johnson on goal-line work, and James Crepea of the Montgomery Advertiser says he observed Jovon Robinson and Peyton Barber getting the most reps with Jeremy Johnson. So, as noted, take every report in these brief periods with a grain of salt, as different people observe different things.

This is a position that will likely be constantly in flux even through the first 3-4 games of the 2015 season. Gus Malzahn's modus operandi has been to search out the feature back and then feed him the rock. Meanwhile, I still have dreams of an offense capable of destroying you with a feature fresh new feature back in each half. I really think this season will have a team with that ability.

Kick/Punt Returns:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Jason Smith wears a blue jersey instead of non-contact jersey as position switch seems near: <a href="http://t.co/MuzahJW7dO">http://t.co/MuzahJW7dO</a> <a href="http://t.co/obaSjnzyAt">pic.twitter.com/obaSjnzyAt</a></p>&mdash; Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) <a href="https://twitter.com/bmarcello/status/577949118963789824">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Well now, that could mean a number of things, and...

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Jason Smith catching punts at Auburn&#39;s practice Tuesday <a href="http://t.co/YnrlrlN6bs">pic.twitter.com/YnrlrlN6bs</a></p>&mdash; Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) <a href="https://twitter.com/AUGoldMine/status/577950528732291074">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>On punts: Jason Smith, Marcus Davis, walk-on receiver Gray King, Stephen Roberts.</p>&mdash; Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoelAEricksonAU/status/577941933298958336">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Jason Smith wearing a blue, not an orange jersey, and didn’t spend much, if any time with QBs in the time I was out there.</p>&mdash; Joel A. Erickson (@JoelAEricksonAU) <a href="https://twitter.com/JoelAEricksonAU/status/577939554671435776">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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Okay, yeah, Smith is likely making the move to receiver sooner than expected. I wonder if this has been something he's recognized and has decided to get an early jump on, or if the coaches pushed it. I do think Smith will mark the return of the Wildcat, though. He's electric with the ball in his hands and has pretty good throwing ability, too.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Only two players returning kicks today: receiver Stanton Truitt and running back Peyton Barber.</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577937806980419584">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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For about as long as I can remember, Auburn has gone with a speedy WR and a RB at the kick-off spot. Sometimes it's been a particularly quick DB. Seems like that's not going to change. One really fast guy, one who is more the bruising, down-hill runner. Truitt is supposed to have lightning speed (though perhaps not as fast as Messrs. Taillights and McCalleb), and it's not like Barber is exactly slow.

Coaches

Brandon Marcello of al.com reported linebackers coach Lance Thompson was working with the defensive line some, today. As he says, that's not TOO surprising. Marcello points out that Thompson and DL Coach Rodney Garner will be building the pass rush, together. Given that one position on the team will be a hybrid DE/LB, it makes even more sense for them to work together on how to use that position in various situations.

Video

AuburnUndercover has some free video content of the QBs and RBs working zone-read stuff, and also J.B. Grimes working his offensive line, and Rodney Garner with the defensive line.

AL.com has video of Jovon Robinson at the RB slot, but also returning some kicks, as well.

The Montgomery Advertiser has some brief video of almost every position unit to go along with the aforementioned recap containing the info on who was getting reps at RB..

Gus Malzahn Press Conference Tweet-cap

Not as many beat-writers to quote from, today. I suspect some of them are in Birmingham for the baseball game, tonight. I usually prefer to spread out the tweet-captures from all of the beat writers. I'm sure there's much more that was said, but this is all I could pull from Twitter.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Gus Malzahn is now here. &quot;We had a good physical practice. We had offense versus defense a lot.&quot; Said they &quot;really want to strain the guys.&quot;</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577968601107398657">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Malzahn says today was more offense vs defense than individual work</p>&mdash; James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) <a href="https://twitter.com/JamesCrepea/status/577968719223197696">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Jason Smith is going to play receiver, but he&#39;s still going to work at quarterback, too.</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577968827906019329">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Jason Smith will play both quarterback and wide receiver for the remainder of the spring.</p>&mdash; Bryan Matthews (@BMattAU) <a href="https://twitter.com/BMattAU/status/577968950727831552">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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I think this definitely plays into the Wildcat role. If you have a player who is well-practiced at playing quarterback along with his usual wide-receiver, it makes Wildcat plays that much more deadly.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Malzahn said Thursday won&#39;t be a scrimmage, but they will &quot;tackle a lot.&quot; So no scrimmages before spring break.</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577969088120659969">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Malzahn said it&#39;s more important to practice and get Will Muschamp&#39;s defense installed before they start to scrimmage.</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577969192802091008">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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There goes my thought that Thursday would be a scrimmage to see where things were before the week off!

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Gus Malzahn says Jeremy Johnson and Sean White are &quot;getting about equal reps&quot; at first-team quarterback. &quot;They&#39;re pushing each other.&quot;</p>&mdash; Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) <a href="https://twitter.com/AUGoldMine/status/577970040668086272">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Malzahn: Spring will be &quot;very big&quot; for Tony Stevens, who will get reps with first team offense</p>&mdash; James Crepea (@JamesCrepea) <a href="https://twitter.com/JamesCrepea/status/577969969075458048">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Gimel President &quot;is a little banged up&quot; and they hope to have him back to full health once they return after spring break.</p>&mdash; WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) <a href="https://twitter.com/wareagleextra/status/577969700971405312">March 17, 2015</a></blockquote>

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In other injury news, Hokanson references Tim Irvin was in a shoulder sling, though still practicing.