Gus Malzahns previews Idaho

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Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn press conference

Tuesday, November 17, 2015, previewing the Idaho game

Opening Statement… “We are playing Idaho at home this week. Our goal is to get a victory and become bowl eligible, and that is what is on our mind. Our guys are ready to hit the practice field today and try to get better.”

Takeaways from Georgia game… “I felt like overall our defense did a very good job. I see our defense getting better each week. They played well enough to win. Offensively, we just didn’t get it done. We have to get more points on the board and we just didn’t do that. We stalled a lot and didn’t put drives together. The punt return was definitely a tough one at that point. That is what I saw.”

On play-calling process between Malzahn and Rhett Lashlee… “We did the same thing that we did at Texas A&M. But the bottom line is when we don’t do well offensively, that is on me. That is the way it goes. We did the same thing at A&M, got into a rhythm and did a good job, and we didn’t do a good job on Saturday, and that is on me. I have to find a way to fix that. That is what we are working to do to finish this thing offensively.”

Who makes substitution decisions… “It is the same way we have been doing it since we have been together. We have Jovon (Robinson) and Peyton (Barber); we feel very good about both of those guys. Peyton is our leading rusher and he has had an outstanding year, and Jovon has been coming on as of late. We have confidence in both of those guys.”

On Jovon Robinson getting fewer carries in the second half… “I think he got four carries in the second half. We went with Peyton. We have confidence in both of them. That was our thinking.”

Status of Sean White… “He is not 100 percent. Hopefully, he will be healthier this week, and we will do a good job on practice trying to manage that.”

On starting quarterback… “We are probably going to go with Jeremy (Johnson) this week. It’s the fact that Sean (White) is not 100 percent — at the same time we feel good about Jeremy running our offense and executing our offense. We will see how the week goes. That could change, but if you ask me right now we are probably going with Jeremy.”

Did White take too many snaps against Georgia… “Obviously, we didn’t do a very good job offensively in the second half. Our plan was to play them both. When he got in there he wasn’t 100 percent, but we felt there were some opportunities for some things that we could do. It didn’t work out. When we look back, if we could change some things, we probably would. But that was our plan going in. We thought he was a little healthier than he was. We have to get him healthy before we get him back on the field.”

Did his injury affect his play… “Yeah, during the game you could see, but when you look back and gather all of the information on film you can tell.”

Will White play this week… “Like I said, we are going with Jeremy (Johnson). We have to get him healthier. We have to get him healthy to go out on the field and be successful.”

Would you play Jonathan Wallace at quarterback… “Wallace got a lot of reps when Sean was hurt, specifically the Texas A&M week. As a coach, you evaluate and know your guys. You try to put out there who ever gives you the best chance of being successful, so that is what we have been doing. Jonathan also has a role of playing wide receiver, too, which the last two weeks he has gotten a lot of reps, and has performed pretty well.”

On why Auburn hasn’t had success on quick passes to the outside… “I think it is a combination of a few different things. We have to do a better job blocking and do a better job executing when we do throw it out there.”

Status of Austin Golson… “It is going to be tough on Austin to play this week. He will want to and he will try, but it is going to be tough. Devonte Danzey is a guy that really came in there and did a solid job for us on Saturday. He started games last year, so he has a lot of experience. He is a savvy guy and has been playing center for about five weeks. We feel comfortable with him.”

On depth at the center position… “Avery (Young) has gotten reps before. We will get him some reps this week.”

On timeline of Xavier Dampeer’s return… “I’m not ready to tell you yet. I don’t know right now. Possibly by the end of the year, but he is not going to play this week.”

Status of Shon Coleman… “Shon got a little banged up. We will see how this week goes. He finished the game, but he is a little banged up.”

On why the defense is starting to click… “If you look at the last two weeks, we are really starting to play with confidence, and starting to make plays. The front is being very disruptive, and the linebackers are playing well. Our secondary is playing well; they are starting to play with a lot of confidence. Putting two back to back weeks like that is very encouraging. You can tell that they are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”

On Kamryn Pettway… “He battled some issues, yes. I think you saw in Arkansas that he got a few injuries and battled a few things. We held him out the next week to try to get him healthier. He’s a guy that has improved and is playing a new position this year. He has improved each week and he provides that physical edge when he is healthy.”

Benefit of extra practices before a bowl game… “There’s no doubt. You are developing the young guys, and it’s very beneficial for the young guys and everything moving forward.  It’s good for the coaches too, to be working with those young guys and getting them prepared.”

On importance of getting longer passing plays… “That’s what we have to solve. We’ve got to have more explosive pass plays. We were able to run the football effectively enough at Texas A&M where we only needed a couple of them. I think we had two or three. As far as last week, we didn’t have that many.”

On wide receivers… “You know, at times we’ve played well and made plays down the field. I think when you think about the passing game, there are a lot of factors that all have to be clicking to be very effective. There are a lot of factors at times why that hasn’t happened.”

On Jeremy Johnson’s struggles Saturday… “Early in the year, obviously, he went through a storm, but the last two weeks he’s really started to settle in. You can see him getting his confidence back and managing the offense. (Saturday) he could’ve played better, but he also did some good things. We could’ve played better around him, too.”

Did Jeremy’s demeanor change after the interception… “No, he put it behind him and was ready for the next play. That’s what you have to do.”

On Robert Leff… “Robert’s had a very good year for us. He’s played some tackle and some tight end. When Shon (Coleman) went down the other day, he went in there and that was our scoring drive.  Ran behind him a couple times, and he is really starting to play with more confidence. He’s been a big positive for offense this year.”

On Leff’s potential to start at left tackle next year… “He definitely has the ability to do that. He would be set up to start in that position.”

On the quarterback for 2016 season… “All I’m worried about is Idaho right now and trying to beat them.”

Is it difficult to focus on Idaho instead of Alabama game… “No. We talked about it the other day, our coaches and our players. The only thing that is going to be on our minds is this game and winning this game to get bowl eligible. We’ll take care of next week when it gets here.”