AUBURN, Ala. — A week of focusing on the red zone paid off in a big way for the Tigers in their 58-7 homecoming win over Louisiana-Monroe.
In one of the best offensive performances of the year, Auburn amassed 688 total yards of offense and converted on four of five attempts in the red zone. A trio of freshman earned their first career scores and sophomore Kerryon Johnson continued to make defenders look silly. And of course, the defense was outstanding once again.
Now, after five-straight home games Auburn will travel to Starkville, Mississippi for its first SEC road matchup against Mississippi State. It will also be the third-consecutive week offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee handles play calling.
Here’s what Gus Malzahn said on Tuesday afternoon:
- First thing Malzahn touches on is that Starkville is a “tough place to play.”
- “They’re very good against the run. Obviously we like to run the football I think that will be a big factor in the football game.”
- Running back Kamryn Pettway and center Xavier Dampeer will play on Saturday.
- Malzahn says freshman running back Malik Miller did have surgery on Monday and the team is hoping he’s back before the end of the year.
- “Offensively a key is for us to run the football, but also to be balanced.”
- On true freshmen: “I think you’ll see that group collectively be involved…You can see they are getting more and more comfortable.”
- On Stanton Truitt: “He’s really good with the ball in his hands and I think that will give us a lot of flexibility at this point in the season.”
- “That’s a big factor. This is rare we’ve had five home games. The young guys are who you’re always concerned about. We’ll do a good job in practice with the crowd noise.”
- Malzahn says Miller’s absence is also cause for Truitt’s presence at running back, adds depth to the backfield.
- On Braden Smith: “He’s got that finish mentality.”
- On the cowbells: “It’s going to be a communication week.”
- Malzahn says quarterback Sean White was still finding out about himself during his first start against Mississippi State last year, but did some good things.
- On incorporating Jalen Harris into the offense: “That’s one of the things we’re evaluating. We started last week with the red zone…Each week you’re going to see some different things. That could be a possibility down the road. He played very well last week.”
- Malzahn says senior Marcus Davis has a “few issues” but will be on the field moving forward.
- “Ryan (Davis) is starting material…This year is really his first year to get quality playing time.”
- Malzahn says linebacker coach Travis Williams has done a great job with his room and MSU will be a big test for the unit.
- Stanton Truitt, Kam Martin and Jason Smith are all possible players who can return kickoffs, Malzahn says.
- On Jimbo Fisher’s comments about illegal offense: “I think we do a good job of playing within the rules.”
- “I think we’re starting to figure out who we are offensively and we have a chance to keep improving.”
- On John Franklin: “There’s no doubt John’s starting to feel more comfortable. You can see him out there he’s more comfortable. We’ll see how the season goes, but he’s always ready.”
- Malzahn praises second (or blue) offensive line group, who saw more playing time in homecoming win.
- On Chandler Cox’s role: “That’s the best case scenario is not to have to play two positions that are completely different…he’s a very good runner, too. He’s got the ability.”
- “I thought OL Dareus (James) in his first start really did some good things. That really helps us with our depth and our confidence in him and his confidence in himself,” Malzahn says.