AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Gus Malzahn wants Auburn's offense to get even speedier now that he's finally got his starting quarterback coming back.
The Tigers open spring practice Tuesday with Nick Marshall back for round 2, the first time a Malzahn-led offense has had the luxury of a returning starter at quarterback in his nine seasons on the college level as an offensive coordinator or head coach.
Malzahn is hoping that familiarity and experience means more plays for his hurry-up, no-huddle offense. He was a vocal opponent of a failed offseason push to create a rule designed to pull the reins on similar offenses by penalizing teams who snap the ball before 10 seconds run off the play clock.
"We've got a lot of guys back," he said on Monday. "We've got a quarterback back. We ought to be more comfortable. We've got an offensive staff that's been together for a year. With all that being said, and that being who we are is one of our advantages, we feel like this year we definitely need to improve in that area."
Marshall got a crash course in his system during preseason camp last August after arriving from junior college.
Getting faster, and handling uptempo offenses better on defense, was among the four spring goals Malzahn ticked off on the eve of practice.
He said that starts with communication on both sides of the ball.
Mississippi (78.3 plays per game), Missouri (74.4) and Texas A&M (73.4) were the only Southeastern Conference offenses to average more snaps than the Tigers, who ran 72.4 a game.
Auburn did reach 80 plays four times and ran a combined 165 in the SEC championship game against Missouri and the national championship game loss to Florida State. The Tigers went through last spring without the players who wound up being the top two quarterbacks, Marshall and freshman Jeremy Johnson.
"We think we can be quite a bit faster," Malzahn said. "There's times last year we had a lot of new people out there, a lot of moving parts, and as you get more comfortable the faster you can get.