AUBURN - Gene Chizik doesn't have to look far in the past to see the best of Auburn times, and he says a bright future beckons as he heads toward his fourth season as head coach.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik
The national champions of 2010 went 8-5 last season, beating Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at Atlanta's Georgia Dome. They finished spring practice nine days ago and look now toward a season-opener against Clemson back in the Georgia Dome.
"Our guys are young but they are eager," Chizik said Tuesday on the Southeastern Conference coaches' spring conference call. "Their attitude has been outstanding. I think they've really embraced the new coaches. We have a long way to go, but I think our kids understand our future here is very bright. Everybody is very upbeat, very positive and understand there is urgency to be a better team than last season.
"I feel great about this team. I love the kids. They all have a great ambition to succeed. I think they all have a great ambition to lead. We have guys on this team who take football very seriously."
More from Chizik:
On what the offense will look like under new coordinator Scot Loeffler
"I don't think there is any question we have really closed the gap on our identity and what we want to be able to do. ... Because of Scot's background and, philosophically what I believe in, we are going to be able to do some different things.
"... We are going to come up with our own package, our own identity. We have certainly moved forward in finding out what we can and can't do this spring. No question about it."
On sophomore QB Kiehl Frazier
"It was invaluable he got a chance to play a good bit last year, no matter what role we used him in. A guy who can get in those games early on in his career, being out on the field, being in this environment, playing in this league and not having to do it for the first time the next year is huge.
"He certainly improved in a lot of aspects this spring. He had a lot of opportunities. He's maturing as a quarterback. He's a 19-year-old kid that has a lot in front of him. We asked a lot of him and he handled it very well. His best days are ahead of him, but he made a lot of strides this spring."
On the opener against Clemson
"It is against arguably a top 10 team. A dynamic offense coming back. It's going to give us a good idea where we are heading into our SEC schedule."
On new SEC members Missouri and Texas A&M
"Two great institutions. In my time in the big 12 Missouri was at probably some of its finest hours with what they were able to accomplish. A&M same thing in terms of tradition. All the things you would look for in terms of joining this league, Texas A&M certainly has that."