AUBURN, Ala. — We got Rhett Lashlee on Sunday. We get Gus Malzahn on Tuesday.
The bye week is over, and the weekly Tuesday press conference has a variety of topics to address: bye-week problem solving, health concerns, Sean White’s progression and much, much more. No. 17 Arkansas is coming off a big win over Ole Miss, and No. 21 Auburn is ready to play host to an SEC West opponent.
Here’s what Malzahn had to say Tuesday.
- Starts with the sad news about Quentin Groves. “One of the best linebackers we’ve ever had here,” Malzahn said.
- The Arkansas 4-overtime game is the first topic of conversation. Then Malzahn proceeds to praise Austin Allen. “He doesn’t look like a first-year starter,” he said.
- Defensively, “they make you earn it,” Malzahn said. A lot of returning players this season. “They held Ole Miss better than anyone has all year.”
- The off week gave Auburn a chance to “heal up.”
- Kerryon Johnson will “practice today.” Malzahn said they’ll have a better idea after Tuesday’s practice whether he’ll be able to go.
- The leadership on this team is “very strong. It will keep everybody grounded. Our young guys really listen to them,” Malzahn said.
- Malzahn said at Media Days last year’s Arkansas game was the tipping point. Said this game could have similar type of implications.
- Last year, Malzahn said they are “still learning about Sean (White) at the time. He’s a year older now. He’s been through a lot more situations.”
- How hard to recover from a 4-OT loss? “When you think about it, it still makes me mad. But that’s history. There’s nothing we can do about it,” Malzahn said.
- About a month since relinquishing play-calling: “I see things differently now. Like I said, it’s been refreshing from my standpoint. Rhett and the rest of the offensive staff have changed their level,” Malzahn said. “Do I look more calm? I feel more calm. I will get fired up every now and then, though.”
- “We’ve got more new starters and freshman than I can remember,” Malzahn said.
- Progress from Clemson: “I’d say quite a bit,” Malzahn said. “Just for us, I’d say it’s fair to say we’re better.”
- Why the change with negative plays? “When you focus on something. That’s really a tribute to the offensive staff for looking at it and knowing we needed to improve. It’s more of an approach,” Malzahn said.
- The offensive line is still undecided. “We’ll make that call later in the week,” Malzahn said. But he’s happy to know he has 6 guys he can rotate and still be successful.
- Malzahn sees similarities between Austin Allen and his brother. “He’s showing a lot of toughness. He’s been very impressive.”
- Opportunities on big plays vs. Arkansas: “You’ve got to earn it,” Malzahn said.