April 24, 2013

Closer to reclamation

AUBURN | The final drill of Auburn's spring practice period ended Wednesday morning, completing a complicated introduction between a beleaguered football team and its new set of commanders.

Coach Gus Malzahn walked away generally satisfied.

"I really feel (like) this team got closer," he said. "We talked about hard-nosed physical edge and we put them through it. And they survived it. I feel like they got better in that area. We still have work to do in all areas, but I really feel like we improved."

The Tigers' first order of business was to re-build their attitude. A hugely disappointing season in 2012 followed by coach Gene Chizik's ouster left players confused about their next step. Malzahn and a mostly new corps of assistants wasted no time communicating their expectations and demanding every player to conform.

They did.

Malzahn said he began noticing changes during the first week of practice during a cold snap in late March. As each practice passed, he noticed that older players had become more assertive on the field and that that attitude improved.

"The big thing for me was to bring our team together and to play together, to get our edge back, to get that mental toughness -- and we've improved. I like where we're at right now as far as our
attitude. It will be just a matter of how hard we can work during the
summer and hopefully they'll come back improved from today."

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