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Malzahn: Auburn's QB competition shaping up

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

AUBURN, Ala. -- Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn says Auburn's quarterbacks have a better understanding of the offense than they did this time last year, even the one who wasn't around.

The Tigers donned full pads for the first time Saturday to close the first week of spring practice. Malzahn said junior college transfer Cam Newton and the other three quarterbacks "did a solid job."

"We rotated them equally," he said. "The thing that stands out to me is all four have a good grasp in what we're doing. Compared to this time last year, you can tell the guys have a better understanding of the offense."

Coach Gene Chizik also says Newton is digesting the information well so far.

"I think we're really pleased with the gains and the traction he's made here in the last three days," Chizik said. "It's a complete learning process, completely different when you go out there and throw 11 guys against it and they're running fast.

"He's really doing a nice job with a long way to go, as our whole team is."

Newton says he has been working on learning Malzahn's fast-paced offense since arriving on campus in January, not just the three practices. The one-time Florida player is vying to replace starter Chris Todd after leading his Texas junior college to a national championship.

"That's probably the biggest thing," Newton said. "People think it's just three days but ever since I've been on campus, coach Malzahn has been getting all the quarterbacks around and going over, just walking through it. That's probably been the biggest help I've had. Just not coming out here and going right into the fire.

"We've been practicing for this for a while now, for about three or four weeks. Just walking through against the air and knowing where our guys are supposed to be."

He also said it was exciting practicing at the stadium.

"At my other schools, we never played in the stadium unless it was the spring game or the game," Newton said. "I think playing in the stadium really raised the level and probably put the effect in everybody's head that you've got to be perfect today and that's what we're aiming for."

Chizik didn't single out any players as standing out in the workout at Jordan-Hare Stadium but called it "an energetic first day" in pads.