AUBURN, Ala. — Head coach Gus Malzahn made a couple of changes for the matchup against LSU. For starters, he wore a baseball cap. More importantly, he passed over play calling duties to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. Both strategies worked.
The home Tigers defeated No. 18 LSU and avoided their seventh-straight SEC home loss. Malzahn was named Bobby Dodd national coach of the week amid the breaking news from Baton Rouge of Les Miles’ removal as head coach.
Now Auburn (2-2, 1-1 SEC) shifts its focus to Louisiana-Monroe, who travels to Jordan-Hare on Saturday afternoon.
Here’s what Malzahn said at his weekly press conference:
- “I really feel like we’re in a good spot for the rest of the season.”
- On turning over play calling duties: “That’s something after the first game that it really hit me, it’s 100 percent the best decision for our team.”
- Malzahn says the big thing is the red zone production, which will be the No. 1 focus moving forward.
- “It was the first time we faced a pro-style team and our defense responded very well.”
- Malzahn says the focus this week is Louisiana-Monroe.
- Linebacker Paul James III, “has a knee injury and it looks like he will miss the rest of the season.”
- “For me, during the game it was very refreshing. I could be there for the special teams and not worry about the next play.”
- “That was one of the best defenses we’ve faced, maybe the best defense we’ve faced, this season.”
- ” You do something for so long and then reality hits you. It hit me after game one…then it finally got to a point where that was best for our team.”
- Malzahn touches on the difficulty of calling plays and managing things as a head coach in this day and age, says it’s “nearly impossible.”
- On day-to-day changes: “The biggest difference is I’m not going to be in the film room for 20 hours a day.”
- “You can really see the defense different and see how everything is unfolding,” Malzahn says on coaching responsibility changes.
- Malzahn says, “at times,” he was coaching angry during the season.
- “I’m looking forward to transitioning that way.”
- “I felt like I was too negative the first couple of games, living and dying with every play. It was real refreshing for me to be on the opposite end of that, not to live and die by every play.”
- Malzahn says he has “his group of friends” he talks to about coaching, but it was “kind of a gut feeling.”
- “You will some different things in the red zone moving forward.”
- On Daniel Carlson: “He’s got great range, I trust him from 60 yards.”
- “I thought Kerryon Johnson was a full-grown man. He was as physical as I’ve ever seen. He broke tackles, and they’ve got a lot of guys who can really tackle.”
- Malzahn says running game questions have been answered.
- “We’re getting more and more confident in our two freshman.”
- On freshman Kyle Davis: “He’s still learning as he goes.”
- Daniel Carlson is, “A game changer. He’s a weapon.”
- Malzahn warns, “Don’t try to catch his kicks,” referencing Auburn student who was hit in the face.
- On Toomer’s Oak burning: “I hope they punish the guy big time, that’s what I hope.”
- On Les Miles: “Les is a legend. He’s helped make the SEC what it is. He’s a great coach, a great person. He’s a guy, coming to the SEC, I always looked up to.”
- “He’s one of the best coaches in America…If he wants to go pro, he can go pro.”