AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn cannot eradicate Auburn’s 29-16 loss Saturday to Texas A&M in its Southeastern Conference opener.
Nor can Malzahn erase the fact the Tigers have been defeated at home by their past six SEC — and seven Power 5 — opponents.
His lone option is to look forward.
His players, however, have a score to settle with the past when they face LSU this week.
“The only thing on my mind right now is making us as good as we possibly can be,” Malzahn said. “That’s the way I look at it. You turn the page from this one, you learn from it, you go practice, you give them a good plan and you worry about LSU – that’s the only thing on my mind.”
The Auburn players, however, are still somewhat engrossed with what happened during last year’s trip to Baton Rouge. Motivation from that 45-21 thrashing could be a good thing.
“I mean, really I just feel like every player that was here that played last year remembers it,” senior captain Montravius Adams said. “We haven’t talked about it, but I know every player remembers it.”
As Auburn prepares to play LSU on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN), players will recall Leonard Fournette barreling 71 yards downfield on the game’s opening drive. They’ll picture the Heisman candidate darting past (and literally, in DB Tray Matthews’ case, flipping) defenders as he scored three touchdowns.
Most importantly, they’ll remember how disappointed, even disgusted, they were with the beating they received on the Bayou. Auburn players have been looking forward to playing a different game since last September.
“This game is really one of the games that was circled on our schedule,” linebacker Deshaun Davis said. “We know how we played last year, which was downright not Auburn football. Of course, we’re going to come in with a chip on our shoulder. We’re really going to be looking for revenge in that game.”
Auburn knows what to expect against LSU this time.
Of course, Fournette always will be a threat, but Derrius Guice was an SEC All-Freshman in 2015. The opposing wide receiver group will create matchup issues, standing taller than the Aggies. LSU’s defensive line — the anchor of its stout defense — is talented and athletic.
Still, Auburn feels this game is more than another SEC matchup.
“It’s personal,” sophomore cornerback Carlton Davis said. “They got the best of us last year, but this year we’re really going to plan and work on trying to get back and just play lights out. Everybody should know, it’s kind of something that you just know we’re going to play with an edge.”
For a little while longer, Auburn will focus on the mistakes it made against Texas A&M.
“After (we make) corrections, we’re moving on to the next game,” Adams said. “There’s nothing we can do about it, so there’s no reason to dread it. I feel like it’s very personal. Last year they embarrassed us there. Now its’s time to come back and play.”
LSU won its first SEC game, a back-and-forth battle against Mississippi State. It will bring momentum and a positive attitude to the Plains.
Auburn will make adjustments and try to solve its offensive woes. As Malzahn would like, the team will prepare for the future.
But the Auburn players will walk onto the field next weekend almost entirely inspired by the past.