"Our emphasis today in practice was red zone, seven-on-seven and team versus each other," Coach Gus Malzahn said. "It was also a clean-up from the scrimmage after the coaches got a chance to grade everything...just making sure before we move forward that we have got everything corrected."
The session was in shoulder pads, helmets and shorts on a warm spring day. "I thought overall our guys came out and finished practice with energy," the head coach said. "Our coordinators were pleased with the end result at the end of practice."
Asked what the video of the scrimmage showed the staff, Malzahn said, "It was good for us because we had three groups that were all rotating. Some guys got multiple reps with multiple groups, but overall we got the information we were looking for.
"We know a lot about the guys that played last year, but we are really looking at the new guys, guys that are young that have the possibility to help. It gave us great information with all the guys that were in the scrimmage."
Asked if there were any disappointments from the scrimmage that featured approximately 100 plays, Malzahn said, "No, there wasn't anything that was disappointing. It is just a matter of the execution, especially with the guys that are returning. The expectations obviously are a lot higher.
"Your first scrimmage you are always checking maximum effort just so everybody is on the same page...as far as the effort goes that we need to be playing at. I thought for the most part a lot of the older guys understood that. It was good for the younger guys to see what that expectation is."
Jeremy Johnson throws a pass in Tuesday's practice.
Sophomore Marcus Davis, who played a key role for the Tigers last season after converting from a high school quarterback to a college receiver, said the team is improving as the Tigers approach the midway point of spring drills with seven of 15 practices completed. "I think we have made a lot of progress," he said.
"We picked up where we left off (last season) and I feel like everybody knows what they are doing and what to expect so everything is going how it is supposed to be," he said.
The receiver group looks to be improved from this time last year and Davis said there is good chemistry with position coach Dameyune Craig leading the way. "It is a brotherhood for us," he said. "Everybody wants to see each other do good so we just correct each other. Everybody feels good when their brother makes a play."
Transfer D'haquille Williams has been one of the standout performers for the offense this spring. Davis said he has been impressed with the former junior college All-American.. "He has been good and he is real aggressive," Davis pointed out. "He goes to get the ball."
Malzahn said that Davis is continuing to make progress. "Marcus is a guy I know our quarterbacks have a lot of confidence in. He is a very crisp route-runner. He knows how to get open. He has that natural knack. He can make a big play like he showed last year.
"You can tell he is a more confident guy," Malzahn added. "He is a guy who is going to be a big factor in our pass game moving forward."
Senior defensive tackle Angelo Blackson said he thought that scrimmage one was a productive session for the Tigers. "As a defense we had a lot of breakdowns, but at the same time we made a lot of plays, a lot of big hits. We came to play."
Blackson said that going against a strong offensive line, and a overall talented offense, is good for the defense. "You know the saying, ‘iron sharpens iron,' so we are going to see those guys all year. Hopefully, the stuff we do on the practice field shows up in the games and they make us better and we make them better."
In other news and notes:
*Khari Harding, a redshirt sophomore, is getting a look at weakside linebacker in practice this week. Commenting on the Oklahoma native, Malzahn said, "He is a guy who is a big hitter. You could see that off his recruiting film and he has made some good hits so far hard.
Khari Harding (left) and linebacker Cameron Toney are shown in a drill at Tuesday's practice.
"It is kind of one of those examples of mixing and matching, and trying to move around a couple of guys to a couple of positions to see where his best fit is," Malzahn added. :We had him at safety and are playing him some at linebacker. We will see where he is at the end of the spring, but he has the ability to help our team."
*Sophomore Elijah Daniel, who suffered a groin pull the first week in practice, returned to action on Tuesday. He is expected to push for a starting job this year.
Elijah Daniel is shown at Tuesday's practice.
*In Saturday's scrimmage three-year starting center Reese Dismukes was held out to let juco transfer Xavier Dampeer get extra practice time. "It was really good for him," Malzahn said. "He got in there with the first and second groups. He got a lot of reps and that is what he needs. I thought overall for what we ask our center to do, for the first time in a scrimmage setting, I thought he did a good job. His snaps were good, and, of course, that is where it starts. His execution will get nothing but better."
*Asked about Jason Smith, a 2013 AU signee who was arrested on a charge of marijuana possession over the weekend, Malzahn said, "We'll see. We will see the facts and deal with it like we would anything else."
Smith did not qualify to enroll at AU last summer and is currently attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where he is expected to be a redshirt freshman this fall. Smith is verbally committed to sign again with the Tigers.
*The head coach said that offensive tackle Shon Coleman continues to make progress. "This time last year we had a close eye on him with everything he went through with his (cancer) treatments and everything with that. You could see he got better and better in the spring and once we got out to fall you could he was starting to get his strength back.
"He did a solid job for us last year and now he is fighting for a starting position. You can see the urgency is there and he definitely looks like the guy we recruited four years ago when he was healthy."
*Commenting on how quarterbacks Nick Marshall, Jeremy Johnson and Jonathan Wallace performed in scrimmage one, Malzahn said, "I think all of them did a solid job, I'd say. Any time you rotate three groups it is hard on quarterbacks. With that being said, I think Coach (Rhett) Lashlee was pretty pleased with all of them that were out there."