Auburn led off SEC Media Days in the gorgeous 2nd floor of the Hyatt Regency at the Hoover Galleria*. Let’s see what all four participants had to say.
Head Coach Gus Malzahn
Before his press conference started, Malzahn told beat reporters that the four players arrested for marijuana possession will not miss playing time. This isn’t necessarily a big surprise, since the Auburn Athletic Department policy is usually a team-focused punishment rather than missed playing time. I’m sure some people will try to make a big deal out of this (if Auburn were playing Louisiana-Monroe first, would they be suspended), but to me it’s a non-issue. I’m sure they didn’t enjoy their individual punishments. As long as the players don’t repeat their offense, this is not a problem.
As usual, Auburn has a slogan for this season:
One of Malzahn’s biggest talking points was the quarterback battle:
Gus Malzahn's thoughts on the battle for the Auburn QB job: pic.twitter.com/lDDPJKvSBl— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) July 11, 2016
I think it’s interesting that Malzahn is more-or-less admitting that Woody Barrett will not be able to win the job this year. I think that’s the smart move. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Barrett redshirts this season. Either way, the offense will be designed around the winner of that QB battle:
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn "will tweak our offense" to build around the winner of the QB competition's strengths #SECMD16— WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) July 11, 2016
Malzahn also gave a bit of a preview of Auburn’s first opponent and referenced the schedule:
Malzahn: "I would put our schedule up especially early against anyone in college football"— WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) July 11, 2016
Malzahn on Auburn opening with five straight home games: "I hope it's a good thing." Tough opponents for the Tigers during that stretch.— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) July 11, 2016
Gus Malzahn on Clemson opener: “They have 1 of better players, if not the best (Deshaun Watson). We’ll figure out where we’re at early"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 11, 2016
Watson was heavily recruited by Auburn, so the coaching staff has a good idea about what he can do.
Malzahn also hit on one of the biggest issues from last season that I think wasn’t brought up enough:
Gus Malzahn references Auburn’s poor record in close games last year. In games decided by 8 or less, AU 3-4 in 2015, 3-2 in ’14, 6-1 in ’13— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 11, 2016
Auburn was also 12-3 in close games with Malzahn as offensive coordinator (all three losses were in 2009).
What might help in winning those close games? The defense. Malzahn had some lofty praise for the other side of the ball:
Malzahn raves about his defensive staff. Says he has the best d-line coach in the nation in Rodney Garner. pic.twitter.com/Pe13ggiOdv— SEC Country (@seccountry) July 11, 2016
Malzahn said this year's defense could be the best Auburn has had in his four seasons as head coach.— Josh Vitale (@AUBlog) July 11, 2016
Though Malzahn has never really worked with a dominant defense, the 2010 group had a good pass-rush and was great against the run (109.1 yards per game). If this truly is the best group, it will help carry the load until the offense gets humming.
Malzahn ended with some nice comments about former Georgia coach Mark Richt:
Malzahn: “Mark Richt is one of the better coaches in college football. Great example, how you’re supposed to act & go about your business"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) July 11, 2016
DT, Montravius Adams
The big man was certainly looking dapper, as he went with a bow-tie and vest combo
Montravius kept his priorities in order with his first statement of the day:
Montravius Adams says that it's his mom's birthday, and wants to wish her a happy birthday— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 11, 2016
He also challenged himself for the upcoming season:
Don’t we all?
Adams also put some of the blame for last year’s struggles on the players. Especially one game in particular:
Montravius Adams on Fournette's game last year: "That wasn't coaches, that wasn't scheme, that was on us as players."— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 11, 2016
Adams was also asked about today’s climate of racial violence. I thought he handled it well:
Montravius Adams on recent news events and role of athletes: "At the end of the day, God said that we are all brothers."— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 11, 2016
DE, Carl Lawson
Carl has never been one to mince words:
Auburn's Carl Lawson on if he'd rather win a big game at home or on road: "I want to win them all." #pokemonGO— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) July 11, 2016
VIDEO: Auburn DL Carl Lawson blames team’s struggles last season on ‘complacency’ https://t.co/vsYYTkdqLe— WarEagleExtra (@wareagleextra) July 11, 2016
Lawson later dropped this one:
Lawson says that he was about 60 percent last year when he came back from his hip injury.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 11, 2016
That's kind of terrifying.
Considering how much different the defense truly looked with Lawson in the game, that’s amazing. If Carl can stay healthy, he could have the kind of season that Nick Fairley had in 2010. It could even be better. We’ve seen flashes of what he can do, and I think he has a better mindset than Fairley did.
WR, Marcus Davis
Marcus probably had the fewest tweeted comments. I suppose that comes from him being the least-heralded of the 3 players, but I wish there would have been more posted about what he had to say.
Davis gave his perspective on the QB battle:
The basics of Auburn's 3-man QB battle, per WR Marcus Davis pic.twitter.com/LxDjCi5r8b— SB✯Nation CFB (@SBNationCFB) July 11, 2016
He was also complimentary of John Franklin III’s work ethic:
Marcus Davis says that John Franklin has had a great work ethic from the moment he came to Auburn.— Barrett Sallee (@BarrettSallee) July 11, 2016
That will be a key in Franklin winning the job. I remember several similar quotes about Nick Marshall from June of 2013. I’m not saying Franklin will be anywhere near as good as Marshall was, but at least he has a full spring practice behind him already.
That’s it for Auburn’s portion of SEC Media Days. I have a feeling Malzahn requested to go first so that he could come up to Hoover, get it out of the way, and get back to coaching. I don’t think he enjoyed the verbal sparing with BERT from 2013. He’s not much for Talkin’ Season.
*-This will serve as my yearly “I’m so SEC I got married at the Wynfrey” tweet/reminder. There. Done.