AU FB 1st practice

Todd Van Emst / AU Athletics Bo Nix is one of two freshmen quarterback competing for the starting job at Auburn University. The Tigers kicked off fall practice Friday.

With four weeks to prepare for a high-profile season opener, Auburn kicked off preseason camp Friday.

"I really felt like our guys were excited about practice," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "There was a lot of positive energy out there. One thing I told them after we were done, we got a little tired toward the end. First time out, we had an extended time period off. Tomorrow, we've got to come out here and we've got to finish practice better. That was the take on it. But I loved our positive energy."

The Tigers split practice into two sessions, Malzahn said, with newcomers observing the first part before participating in the final nine periods.

Freshman quarterbacks Joey Gatewood and Bo Nix handled the reps with the first-team and second-team offense, the first round of their competition for the starting position.

"They're both competing extremely hard,” Malzahn said. “Like I told you before, they're desperate to win the job, and I saw that desperation today. We're straining both of them. The way they handle it is important."

Auburn will practice in full pads for the first time on Tuesday.

The Tigers begin the season Aug. 31 against Oregon in the AdvoCare Classic at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"We're challenging them. Can't be satisfied," Malzahn said. "From a coaches' standpoint, coaching our top players harder than everybody else, that's our philosophy, that's how we're operating, because we've got to take the next step in a lot of areas.” 

Jeff Shearer is a senior writer at Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer