I’ll be honest, I don’t think there’s all that much that can come out of a press conference day except for some light news, injury updates, that sort of thing. Coaches these days are so conditioned to never say anything because they’re either a) super tired from the never-ending job they have b) paranoid about giving any information away to the opponents or c) not super interesting to begin with.
Either way, we have some things that need to be addressed after last Saturday. Auburn played poorly again, and this time the offensive struggles resulted in a tired defense that gave up over 300 rushing yards to Mississippi State. Now, not all of that is the fault of tired legs... Kevin Steele has to come up with a better game plan. Joe Moorhead ran about six different plays on Saturday, and we couldn’t stop them. We prepared for the Bulldog offense that wasn’t working, and they hit us with the vintage stuff that they were familiar with. It was frustrating.
Couple that with some rumors from some sources and Auburn people are doing the same old song and dance. Look, we’re not firing Gus Malzahn for a season that doesn’t quite go our way. Crow and Chief talked about it in the Orange and True Podcast (presented by Champ’s Chicken) last night. We don’t have $32 million or whatever it is to throw around to fire Gus, and why would we do that anyway? He’s the only coach in the SEC that’s shown that he can hang with Nick Saban (and stop pretending like what’s going on across the state isn’t affecting the mindset of Auburn folks right now), and we’re not going to get rid of a coach that can do that.
However, we do kind of suck right now. There’s a ton happening on the field, and we’re very close at times to making it work, but it’s like we’re trying to plug holes in a sinking ship. We need some serious flex tape right now.
Anyway, here’s the head coach.
- Real similar feeling to last year with two losses already and our backs against the wall. He feels that the team is in a good spot mentally, and that they’re in good position to improve each week.
- He says that the Tennessee game is more about our approach this week, which is a little troubling, because it looked like we didn’t prep at all the last few games and just tried (and failed) to improve.
- First question is about the goals (SEC Championship, division championship), and Gus mentions that there’s a similar feeling to last year with it being a long shot. There’s a lot to play for but improvement is needed.
- We jump right in with Jarrett Stidham’s overthrows, and Gus says that everyone’s aware of it, but he squashes any notion that it might be because he’s scared of the lack of protection up front.
- Gus says that Auburn didn’t run more in the second half because of the way the game was unfolding (I actually agree — MSU was eating up clock and Auburn needed to move quickly on offense). As far as tempo on offense goes, Gus is open to whatever will help moving forward, but each game unfolds differently.
- Jack Driscoll’s injury kept him out of the MSU game, and he’ll practice again today, with improvements expected. Calvin Ashley filled in pretty well in the run game (doesn’t mention the passing game and having to go against Montez Sweat).
- There’s another question about Stidham not being in the same rhythm he was in last year. Gus expects to see a difference in the offense the second half of the season. He mentions that Stidham and Ryan Davis are the offensive leaders that they can hang their hats on.
- For Anthony Schwartz, Gus glosses over the question about his playing time going forward. There will be little tweaks to get him the ball (honestly, it did seem like we tried to force the ball to him after the Alabama State game and defenses were looking for it).
- Gus knew that we had some inexperience and that there was going to be some growing. For him, the frustrating thing is that we’re no longer young, and we need to see some progress. If there were some more points on the board, we’d all feel better, and Gus expects we will this weekend.
- On Tennessee, they’ve got a talented defense that’s rested and prepared after the bye. Playing at home helps and he expects Auburn to be hungry this weekend.
A couple of other notes from the player portion of the press conference:
Auburn WR Ryan Davis on Jarrett Stidham: I'm behind Jarrett 100 percent. Everybody else is behind Jarrett 100 percent.— John Zenor (@jzenor) October 9, 2018
Jarrett Stidham: "I'm the one with the ball in my hands every play, and I've got to play a lot better. ... I know that and I'm working as hard as I can to get better every week."— AUBlog (@AUBlog) October 9, 2018
Deshaun Davis:— AUBlog (@AUBlog) October 9, 2018
"I know there's a lot of frustration going around, but what we have to do is stick together as a team and let the outside stuff be the outside stuff."
"I know no one's going to fold. ... We're still going to be Auburn."
I want this team to get angry at the doubters and turn it on to the level we expected before the season started. I want to see the offense finally start to hum like we expected, and I want to see some fire from guys on the field. It seems like they’re saying the right things, but we still need to see some drastic improvement on offense. Still, we’re so close to making things click in certain areas, and I know that’s more frustrating for the team than for anyone else.
Let’s not be a bunch of Alabama Student Sections, let’s show up Saturday not whine about being 4-2 midway through the season. Right now, the pressure’s OFF. Go enjoy Auburn football for Auburn football and don’t let the rest of the noise get to you. Remember how you felt when you were a kid going to games? Get that feeling back Saturday and go for Auburn.