Auburn Football: It's Full Speed Ahead for the Tigers on the "Gus Bus"

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Auburn Football: It's Full Speed Ahead for the Tigers on the
Gus Malzahn talks to the media on Wednesday, March 26. Photo credit: Todd Van Emst / Auburn media relations

Welcome back, Auburn football. It's good to see you again, old friend. 

On Wednesday, the Auburn Tigers will march onto the practice fields adjacent to Samford Ave. for the first time under new head coach and former offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn for its first spring practice. 

The "Gus Bus" only knows one speed: fast. Buckle up your seat belts if you're an Auburn fan, because it's full speed ahead towards rebuilding a proud program that has been spiraling downward since being at the college football mountaintop two seasons ago.

Similar to Malzahn's offense, Auburn will complete its maximum allotment of 15 spring practices under NCAA rules in hurry-up, no-huddle fashion. The 15 practices will be compacted into a short 24-day window. 

The Tigers are the latest SEC team to start spring practice, but will be among seven other SEC teams to complete spring drills. Auburn's practices will culminate in the annual A-day game on April 20.

Here's a look at the spring practice start and end dates for each SEC team, courtesy of the SEC office:

Auburn will practice every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning bright and early at 9:00 am EST between Wednesday and April 20, with a weekly scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on each Saturday. 

The spring practice schedule is outlined below (via AuburnTigers.com):

March 27—Practice No. 1

March 29—Practice No. 2

March 30—Scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium

April 1—Practice No. 4

April 3—Practice No. 5

April 5—Practice No. 6

April 6—Scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium

April 8—Practice No. 8

April 10—Practice No. 9

April 12—Practice No. 10

April 13—Scrimmage inside Jordan-Hare Stadium

April 15—Practice No. 12

April 17—Practice No. 13

April 19—Practice No. 14

April 20—A-Day Game and festiviites

Even though Auburn is cramming all of these practices into a short window, it does not mean it will lack physicality because Auburn has decent depth at most positions, especially on defense. 

"I'm optimistic because we have good depth right now," defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson told Charles Goldberg of auburntigers.com. "I don't think, in the last 12 years, I've seen this many decent bodies lined up at every position. At lot of springs you don't have much depth, but that's not a problem. I think we'll have a good, physical spring practice because of it."

The practices will also not lack quality. Malzahn preaches attention to detail and will not sacrifice a single quality repetition for the sake of speed. 

Malzahn is a stickler when it comes to attention to detail, according to senior Dee Ford. "Our warmups are detailed. Any screwup, you go back," Ford told Aaron Brenner of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in the video below

Video courtesy of Aaron Brenner / Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

The fast pace of spring practice will not be anything new to Auburn players, who have been participating in winter workouts under strength and conditioning coach Ryan Russell at breakneck speed. 

"We're moving around a lot more, we're getting deep into things. Basically, you never get to catch your breath," Tigers defensive tackle Gabe Wright told Joel Erickson of al.com. "it's Coach Russell's standpoint to up-tempo the workouts. You can do bench, and then run over to a whole another section of drills."

What does Auburn hope to accomplish in the next three-and-a-half weeks? In his pre-spring press conference on Wednesday, Malzahn told us. 

Number one, I told our players today we've got to get our edge back. That's physically and mentally tougher, and we're going to be very physical during spring practice. We're going to have the pads on, and we're going to be getting after it with the basic fundamentals of football. We're going to stress discipline on the field, and that's a big part of what we're doing. 
 
Number two is player understanding of our base offense and defense; I think that's very critical. We want our guys when they leave spring to have a very good understanding of the responsibilities of our base offense and defense -- the reason being this summer, we want them to build upon things and not develop bad habits. 
 
Number three, we want to develop a two-deep depth chart. All positions are open, every one of them. We want to leave spring with a depth chart order by positions. 

In Malzahn's world, fast is a state of mind. 

“That's who we are. Tempo is going to be a very big factor for us offensively and defensively. We're going to be a no-huddle team and that's a mentality. We're going to learn to play fast, practice fast and do everything fast. We think that will be a definite advantage.” (via press conference quotes)

The guy even does a press conference fast. 

Soak in the next three weeks of football, Auburn fans. You may miss something if you blink.

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