Gus Malzahn Previews Ole Miss

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    The WarBlogler
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    Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn press conference
    Previewing the Ole Miss game – Tuesday, October 16, 2018

    Opening statement…
    “First of all, obviously an extremely tough loss Saturday. Like I said after the game, really what stuck out to me after watching, the turnovers were very tough, the third down conversions, especially third down and long, was uncharacteristic. I will say this, I’m real proud of our players. They fought till the end and they played extremely hard. Every game, you know I’ve you told you after the game I’d be looking at everything, to evaluate everything, to try to improve us and I’ve done that. There will be some tweaks this week, I’m not going to sit here right now and say exactly what they are and I don’t want to incriminate us against Ole Miss. With that being said, Jarrett Stidham will be our starting quarterback. He needs to protect the football better — he understands that — but I do have confidence in him and I think he’ll lead us in the right way moving forward. Looking at Ole Miss, when you look at them, I think the first thing that stands out is their offense. They’ve got a lot of weapons on the outside. Their quarterback can really run — he can hurt people with his feet and his arm. I think they’re No. 6 in the country in total offense. Defensively, Wesley McGriff, their defensive coordinator, was here two years ago; we’re very familiar with him. He has those guys playing extremely hard. They’re coming off a big conference victory and I know they have some momentum as far as that goes. A few updates as far as the health of our guys: Boobie Whitlow will be day to day. I’m not ready to say whether he’s going to be able to play or not. Jamel Dean is day to day and so is Marlon Davidson, so, those guys, we’ll hope to have them back. This will be game eight, so our bodies are a little bit banged up. We hope to have those guys back ready to go. Really our mindset will be set here today. The reality is we’re disappointed because we wanted to have a chance to win a championship this year and that’s no longer the case. Our players are in a good spot, as good as a spot they can be mentally. I will say this, our players and our coaches are extremely close — we’re in this thing together. We’re going to roll up our sleeves this week — and this is a big game for us, obviously, going on the road — and get a victory before we get to the off week. The off week is right around the corner and that’ll be a good time to kind of rest up and get a good plan in for the last four.”

    Sometimes when things are going wrong, the wheels come off of the team. How confident are you that is not the case…
    “Our guys are playing their guts out. We have been in every game with opportunities to win every game. For whatever reason, we have not seized the moment or made the plays when we need to make them. Our guys are playing extremely hard and are competitive. I am not going to say that the ball hasn’t bounced our way, because I believe you create your own fortune and success. We need to figure out a way to take that next step to make the plays — to seize the moment when we have an opportunity.”

    Will anything change with your role…
    “No, Chip Lindsey is going to call plays. He does a solid job for the most part and I have confidence in him. I think a lot of our plans have been good; we just haven’t been able to execute in certain situations and we have to do a better job.”

    Do you believe defenses are picking up on your predictability…
    “Every offense and defense has tendencies. You do your best as a coach to use those tendencies against the defense. Every week, we have off-the-field guys that break down our tendencies, so we are aware of not just those, but all the others, too.”

    Were there serious discussions about changing the QB…
    “No. I think it is a good time as a head coach after a tough loss like that to look at the whole picture. We have been close, but close is not good enough. We have got to figure out a way to get over that hump. Jarrett [Stidham] gives us the best chance of winning. He is tough on himself, and he knows the turnovers were tough and he is disappointed. He is going to fight to do everything he can to get that corrected.”

    What did you discuss with Allen Greene in your weekly meeting…
    “We talk every week on Monday. As a matter of fact, I’m the one that set that up and wanted to meet every Monday. We communicate, and he’s been very supportive. And we’ve just got to get through this. I mean, the bottom line is that we’ve got to get through it, and we’ve got to get back on track and winning. And he understands that and I understand that.”

    Will Asa Martin redshirt…
    “No, he’s not. His role, special teams too, he’ll have a chance to help us on special teams and in situations with a running back.”

    On the plan for running back if Whitlow can’t play…
    “You’ve seen Malik (Miller) really come on. Malik has been our third down back. As far as the every down back, I think you’ll see it kind of by committee and just go with the hot hand.”

    Status of Calvin Ashley…
    “Calvin is dealing with a medical issue. We are hoping that he will be back in the near future. The most important thing is his health.”

    Will Shaun Shivers and Anthony Schwartz get more touches…
    “Both of them have big-play ability. They made plays and can really run. I think that’s part of the evaluation process that I said after the game. I’m really excited about Anthony Schwartz, too. You’re talking about a guy that’s not playing like a freshman and making big plays. It’s not just when you hand him the football but it’s the route he ran, turned it upfield and broke a tackle and of course he’s super-fast. Worm (Shivers), I’ve been very impressed with him, his attitude and competitiveness. Both of those guys have explosive, big-play opportunities and you could see them with the ball in their hands a little bit more moving forward.”

    Will C.J. Tolbert travel to Ole Miss…
    “Each week we’ll see. You have the 70 (players) you can take and strategically you look at offensively, defensively, and special teams. So, we’ll see week to week as far as that dress list goes.”

    Has he ever substituted the entire second offensive line as a unit…
    “No, I haven’t. We’re not ready to do that now. There’s some areas that we improved in Saturday up front, specifically running the football between the tackles. We have to keep building on that and we will.”

    Are there younger offensive linemen ready to play…
    “There’s some competition that’s building, I will say that. Not ready to say anything more than that but there is some competition that’s building. There are some guys that are improving.”

    Did you expect this to be a rebuilding year…
    “No, I don’t think anybody expected us to be where we’re at. I didn’t; our players didn’t. We’ve been close, but the reality is we are here. You’ve got to own that. I own it and our players do. We will finish strong. That’s where we’re at and we’re at a point now where there is no more championship. But we’re going to play for Auburn; we’re going to play for each other. We’ve got a staff and a group of players that are close, and they’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to finish this thing on a positive. We’re going to be as good as we can be moving forward.

    Do you feel like you’re playing for your job…
    “No, I feel like I’m coaching my players for the next game. We’ve got to finish this thing the right way. I really expect us to. Are we disappointed? Yes. We’re disappointed. I’m disappointed, our players are disappointed, I know our fans are disappointed. But we’ve got to get through this. And we are going to get through it. And the way you get through it is finish strong, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

    Will Asa Martin have a bigger role…
    “He could. There’s a lot of good competition in the running back room right now. Each practice has a lot to do with that. So we’ll see where that goes.”

    Impact of Jeremiah Dinson missing the first half this week…
    “Dinson is one of our leaders. And he’s one of our best players. Not to have him in the first half, that’s a blow no matter who you’re playing. But we are playing a team who is dynamic on offense. And he is a leader on the field. We’ll have to do a good job with those younger guys coming in and we’ll have to have a good plan against these guys.”

    The challenge of Ole Miss’s dual-threat quarterback…
    “He can play one or the other, it definitely helps — the plus one runs and he was very effective last week running the football in some big situations, so yeah, that’s definitely concerning. You’ve got to defend both and when you do that, that makes it challenging.”

    Will Jordyn Peters replace Dinson…
    “Yeah. Smoke Monday is a guy, too, that has a chance to help. Jordyn Peters obviously is a guy that has experience as far as that goes with that position.”

    On the 50/50 balls vs. Tennessee…
    “It was probably two, maybe three, that were put in the perfect position and the guy made a really good play. There were a couple where our technique could have been better. That, along with the turnovers being number one, but then the 50/50 balls, they won a majority of them.”

    Now that you’ve read all of that, you can watch it here:

    Auburn grad (B.S. in C.S., 2004), loving husband, and semi-new dad that believes Auburn should and could go undefeated in every sport, every year.

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