Gus Malzahn Previews Georgia

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    Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn press conference
    Previewing the Georgia game – Tuesday, November 6, 2018

    Opening statement…
    “We’re playing a very good Georgia team this week — a team that we know well, and they know us well. This will be the third time in a calendar year that we’ve played each other. Kirby’s done a very good job with this program — has a lot of talent. They play very well on all three phases. I look at them offensively and they lead our league in rushing; they know how to run the football. They’ve got a good offensive line with some good backs. Their quarterback’s leading the league in completion percentage — Jake Fromm — he can make all the throws, very efficient, very good leader. Defensively, they’re third in the league in total defense and top 10 in scoring defense. Really what stands out to me is they’re playing a whole lot of defensive linemen. They keep the guys fresh, they rotate a lot of guys. They’re very talented in special teams; they’ve got one of the best returners and Hardman does a super job when you get the ball in his hands. Their kicker is one of the leading kickers, too. So, overall when you look at them on film, they look like a team that has already won the East. They make you earn everything; they’re sound in all three phases. A few updates from our end — we expect everybody to practice today and I’m going to be surprised if everybody doesn’t play. We do have some guys banged up, but with another week of healing up, they should be in a better spot than they were last week. Obviously, it was a big win for us Saturday. The way we won I really think will help us moving forward and we’re looking forward to playing a very good Georgia team, one of our rivals on the road.

    Your scoring output against Georgia has been limited in the past…
    “We’ve got to correct that. With that being said, we’ve got to do a better job. There’s no doubt they’re always a talented team; they’re always going to be one of the more talent-based teams in our league. When you go there, it’s a tough place to play. But we need to switch that up and we need to play well.”

    Are you getting better execution in tempo…
    “I think each game is a little bit different with your approach, and who you’re playing, and their strengths and everything that goes with it. But obviously, you always look at yourself, look at the things you do well and try not to do the things that you don’t do well. And I said the big thing for me Saturday was the disappointment of not being able to run the football effectively. I think we only ran it 18 times and didn’t have a very good average as far as that goes. But when you play the elite teams, you’ve got to manufacture rushing yards. But as far as the question you’re asking, it’s about rhythm. And there’s no doubt we were in rhythm the last two series. You’re always trying to find offensively a rhythm, so we’ll see where that carries us these last three games.”

    Will you get to a point where you run pace exclusively…
    “I wouldn’t tell you right now even if we were doing that. But rhythm is very important.”

    Were the 51 offensive snaps vs. Texas A&M too few…
    “Going into that game, I think they were second in the country in time of possession and they do have one of the best defenses in our league, specifically run defenses. After you play somebody, you know a little bit more about them than even on film. Their rush defense was as good as advertised, there’s no doubt about that. But at the same time, we’ve got to be on the field. The third downs, the conversions –we weren’t very good on third down. That really hindered our number of attempts and our number of snaps that we had. Like I said we only had 18 rushing attempts. We’ve got to do better than that.”

    What’s the carryover from winning in such exciting fashion…
    “When you look at a team standpoint, the thing that I really took away from that game is when the game was on the line, defensively, we made play after play. Offensively, the last two series we answered the bell and then special teams-wise, the return really had a lot to do with it. And we covered the kick too. We covered the kickoff and held them inside the 25 or 20. So all three phases helped win that game when the pressure was on the most. That’s really what our team has taken from that. And you could tell Sunday. It felt different from a confidence standpoint. That’s exactly what we needed — that kind of win to help give us some momentum moving forward.”

    What have been the factors in not running the ball consistently…
    “I think at any time, it’s a lot of different factors involved. I can tell you earlier in the year about the youth and inexperience, but like I said, halfway through you’ve got reps now. And then I can talk about the inexperience of our running backs, the youth. But we’re getting to a point now where we need to be more effective. That’s our challenge, whether it’s getting a little more creative in the run game or do things a little bit different or not do some of the things as much. All those things are on deck. All those things are being considered. Bottom line is we’ve got to run the football better. We’ve taken great pride in that in the past. And we’ve got to do a better job these last three games.”

    At what point do move away from the run game…
    “I think you have to look at all the above, like I was just saying. From that standpoint, whatever gives your guys the best chance at being successful, that’s really the bottom line that you’ve got to think about. But the more talented teams you play, the more important it is to be balanced. So, it’s kind of one of those areas.”

    Do you substitute too much…
    “It just depends. You look at the rhythm that we ended the game with — that was pretty good. We weren’t substituting. But there’s a fine line. Sometimes you need to substitute certain things, sometimes you don’t. If you’re not being successful on offense, the worst thing you can do is a fast three-and-out and your defense is back out there. There’s strategy that goes with both. And every game unfolds a little bit differently.”

    On running pace more…
    “You look at all of it and everything that goes with it. Third downs have been a focus and we didn’t do a very good job on third down. Staying on the field, that’s really the down that we need to be more effective. In the games that we haven’t done that, it’s been extremely tough to win.”

    Have you substituted more over the past few years…
    “No, not so much (regarding the rule change). We substituted quite a bit last year and we were a really good offense, too. You know, it’s just a matter of playing and everything that goes with it.”

    On not running the hurry up as much…
    “No, we’re not hurrying it enough. Like I said, a lot of it has to do with being successful. They say the worst thing you can do is go quick and go three and out. I go back to our third downs, too; we have to be better in that area.”

    On Deandre Baker…
    “We thought he was really good last year, and he chose to come back. He’s one of the best in the country and plays with a lot of confidence. He’s a factor, there’s no doubt.”

    Has Georgia improved from early in the year…
    “I compare them to last year. They are in the same category as last year. All I’m worried about is what they are now. What they were earlier, I’m not concerned about. They are in that atmosphere, I’ll tell you that, as far as the overall team and being a good team.”

    Does he consider running the two-minute offense more…
    “I think all those options are available, so we’ll see how that goes.”

    Does he have confidence in stopping the run…
    “I feel really good about our defensive line. Give Texas A&M credit, they had a little wrinkle scheme that got us on a cutback twice that was part of it. Our rush defense I feel good about. We are going to have to play well against these guys, there’s no doubt. Like I said earlier, we know them well and they know us well. So, we’ll see what happens.”

    On the Malik Willis and Shaun Shivers package…
    “To create rushing yards or positive plays and a change of pace. We’ll see what happens moving forward. Each game you have a different strategy and everything that goes with it. I think right after that, two plays later, we threw a touchdown.”

    On Arryn Siposs…
    “He’s been one of our MVPs overall. What he did the other day, we put our punt team backed up numerous teams and his ball placement was great. He’s a true weapon. A&M’s punter was unbelievable, but I believe (Siposs) is in that category. I think he’s one of the best punters in the league and I think he’s got a chance to get even better. What stands out to me is that he’s a great competitor. He competes, he’s very consistent, and he’s a weapon.”

    Are you wanting to play more field position…
    “Every game is a little bit different, but that particular time in that moment I felt really strong to try and pin them back there, and Siposs did a super job to position the football for our benefit. I believe a few plays later they turned the ball over and then we threw a touchdown. It is always different, sometimes you go for it on 4th-and-1, and sometimes you have the wind and you kick a field goal. It was in that area where we could have done all three, but at that time I felt strong that was the best decision for us.”

    On Christian Tutt’s punt return…
    “That was a similar play that we ran against Georgia last year and have been waiting for the right moment to execute it. Tutt did a super job, especially with a guy in his face, where a lot of guys would have fair caught it, but he didn’t and was just a hair away from going 85 yards. That was a huge play in the game from the standpoint of instead of having the ball at the 15, we had the ball at 40, and that changes everything when we had one timeout under two minutes. That was a big play.”

    Allen Greene said last week that he would like for the Alabama and Georgia games to be further apart on the schedule…
    “Yes, I am ok with that, but I would really like to have one home and one away like we had in 2010.”

    Do you have any thoughts on how that would work…
    “I believe Allen is working on that.”

    Is that with the home-home situation or spreading them apart, or multiple options…
    “Whatever Allen wants is fine, but what I want is one home and one away.”

    Increased play of Coynis Miller…
    “He is coming along great. He is getting more snaps, and he had a big negative play this past game. He is a talented guy that got here late in the summer, worked himself into shape, and is earning more playing time as he goes. He has a bright future if he continues to work.”

    Play of Derrick Brown…
    “Any time he and Dontavius Russell are in the middle, you have two big guys that make trouble for offensive linemen getting to that second level, and they do a great job of keeping guys off our linebackers and letting them play. If they get one on one situations, they are extremely tough to block.”

    What has made Nick Coe so effective in the backfield…
    “Nick is really coming along and gaining more confidence, and he is playing at a high level against the run. He also got a sack when they added one second to the game clock at the end of the game and that was big for him, too.”

    It seems like he never celebrates, even on his great plays…
    “He celebrates in his own way.” Which is what…“I think internally.”

    Status of Calvin Ashley…
    “He had a medical issue he’s dealing with, so hopefully it will be behind him here in the near future.”

    What is it like in the locker room…
    “Great, especially the way we won that game; it was very exciting. There is nothing like it after a big win in this league. Our leaders were celebrating, and it was great to see the excitement on our players face and everything that went with it. It was a fun time.”

    Play of Kaleb Kim…
    “I thought Kaleb Kim was solid. It has been a while since he played, but I though his IDs and snaps were good.”

    Will he start against Georgia…
    “Yes.”

     

    @AuburnEinstein

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