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VIDEO: Gus Malzahn wants to avoid fourth straight loss to LSU

October 27, 2020
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Auburn head football coach Gus Malzahan met with the media Tuesday afternoon where he discussed this Saturday's home game with LSU.

TRANSCRIPT

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn press conference previewing the LSU game

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Opening statement… “First of all, we are glad to be back home. We are hosting the defending national champions and have had three consecutive tough losses against LSU. If you look back at 2017, we went up 20-0, they had a big punt and got the momentum, and we lost that game. Thinking about 2018, we were up the whole game at home, we had two 15-yard penalties on the last drive, and they kicked a field goal on the last play of the game. Last year was a dogfight all the way down to the end and a tough one to take. I’ll tell you this, our guys are extremely excited and motivated to play this game. 2:30 CBS kickoff and playing at home -- I think it is a really big game. This will be our sixth consecutive SEC game. You look at LSU and you see a team that each week has improved. They are probably playing their best game overall and have a bunch of new guys, like we do, and you can tell they are improving. Last week for us was a big road win. I am really proud of our guys the way that they won that battle and wanted to win. Three out of the four close games, our guys have found a way to win, which I think will help us moving forward.”

 

On LSU quarterback TJ Finley… “I was very impressed with the young guy. They ran the football, and he made some good throws in tight coverage. The big thing is that they were able to run the football successfully with Finley at quarterback.”

 

What kind of improvement did you see out of your team from South Carolina to Ole Miss… “I think it was just an overall way of getting back to playing good old hard-nosed Auburn football was the big thing. On the sidelines we had guys picking each other up. We handled adversity extremely well. That feeling on the sideline from our guys was that we’re going to win the whole game, no matter the score was or circumstances.”

 

On yesterday’s SEC officiating statement… “I mean we had a kickoff return called back -- that was a tough one. That’s just the way it goes, and we won the game.”

 

On improving the pass rush… “That’s one of the things we’ve talked about the last two weeks. We’ve got to continue to build upon that and make quarterbacks uncomfortable. That’s going to be a big factor for the second part of the season to help our defensive backs out.” 

 

Are there younger guys on the defensive line like Colby Wooden who can step up… “I think it’s all the above. I think Big Kat [Bryant] is getting healthier. That’s a plus, too.”

 

On Colby Wooden… “It’s been huge. He’s a tough guy, too. You see him improving every week. He uses his hands extremely well. He understands blocking schemes. He’s just improving each week. That’s what we have to have.”

 

On gapping more in the run game… “I think it’s all the above of what you just said. To be a good run team, you have to have zone and gap to slow the linebackers down and everything that goes with it. If you’re facing a team that likes to pressure, a lot of times gap is better than zone. It’s just a matter of being able to do both when the time calls upon. You have to figure out your opponent too and what’s the best to do against that opponent. I’ve always believed you have to have both.”

 

Was Bo Nix more comfortable this week… “There’s no doubt he was definitely locked in. We were able to run the football. That helps everything -- helps the line, helps the quarterback, helps the receivers. That’s Auburn football. That’s what we talked about going in, and our guys did a good job of that. I think for the third week in a row, we’ve rushed for 200 yards. We just have to keep building upon that.”

 

Does it help to get Nix involved in the running game… “Any time your quarterback can be a run threat, it opens up for the running back. It makes one more stress, especially on the perimeter, it makes it a little more honest. I think his ability to get the ball on the edge has been really good in the last couple weeks.”

 

About the transition on the offensive line with Brandon Council out… “We finished the game with Keiondre Jones and he’s in the spot to take the next step. We need a good week of practice. It’s a big week for our guys and our guys have improved in the last couple weeks. The last two weeks we had the same five and obviously we won’t have the same five, but we are trying to keep developing that continuity.”

 

On the running backs picking up pressures… “Yes, that’s part of the progression. This is week six, so we’d better be getting better all over.”

 

Improving the receivers’ yards per catch… “Of course, explosive plays are real important. We are at the halfway point of the year. We have five games left and the numbers should improve with Eli Stove and Anthony Schwartz.”

 

Update on Covid testing… “Yes, we’re all negative for the last one.”

 

Status of Shedrick Jackson… “He’s questionable. He had an injury in the South Carolina game and he tried to return and couldn’t, so he’s questionable probably at best.” 

 

Challenge of LSU pass rush against your new look offensive line… “There’s no doubt it’s going to be a test. I think they’re leading the league in sacks and they have two guys who can flat-out get after the quarterback, especially on the edge. We’re going to have to do a really good job whether it’s scheme or whether it’s situational. When they pin their ears back and they know it’s pass, they’re very effective and impressive watching them on film.” 

 

On Seth Williams’ success opening up the offense… “He’s been a pretty dynamic guy. He’s had three or four game-winning touchdowns, so he’s a guy that’s an impact player. Obviously, when you have your best guys playing their best, it opens everything else up. But it’s really good that he bounced back. That’s a sign of a really good player. I expect him to continue that. Like I said, he’s an impact player.”

 

How is Tank Bigsby handling the workload… “I think he’s handled it pretty well. Obviously with the addition of getting (Shaun) Shivers back, I thought it was a really good 1-2 punch. Both of them are running extremely hard. Both of them have breakaway speed. Both can break tackles. I think those guys are settling down. D.J. Williams got a little banged up on the one carry he had, so hopefully he will be ok. Mark-Anthony Richards is a guy that each week has improved and is starting to play more on special teams. So just keep developing those other guys.”

 

On J.J. Pegues’ development… “He’s getting more comfortable with the offense, so I think you’ll see him being more of a bigger factor moving forward. He has really good hands. You saw the run in the wildcat a couple weeks ago. He’s an enforcer as far as blocking. That one was a split zone -- that was really good. He’s a guy that you’ll see more of in the last half of the season.”

 

How important is it to the offense to get Capers, Newton and Hudson more involved…“We looked at Seth’s play numbers against South Carolina and he played a lot of snaps, so we are just trying to get all those young guys out on the field a little more, and at the same time get in our top guys. You’ll see those guys continue to play more for experience, which I think will help with all the stuff involved with that.”

 

On LSU simplifying its defense… “I think you’ve seen that their defense is fine. They’re better each week. They do have a bunch of young guys, new guys, so just trying to get that experience, but they’ve seen that the last couple weeks, they’ve improved. We’ll see what their plan is, but they definitely have improved.”

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