AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn football’s trip to Baton Rouge couldn’t have gone much worse.
Gus Malzahn’s team jumped out to an early 20-0 lead. The Tigers’ losing streak in Tiger Stadium, it seemed, would be broken. Then came the second half.
Once again under Malzahn, Auburn’s offense almost completely stalled and the visitors were outscored 13-0 by LSU in the fourth quarter.
As a result, Ed Orgeron’s Tigers managed a 27-23 comeback win and left the No. 10 team in the country stunned.
FERG’S FILM ROOM: Stubborn second-half strategy cost Auburn a win at LSU
Things didn’t get much better after the win. Malzahn’s message to his team was one that involved the importance of winning out, though games against Georgia and Alabama remain (as well as trips to Arkansas and Texas A&M).
The coach also emphasized that the loss in Baton Rouge was not “the end of the world,” though fans begged to differ.
Auburn has yet to reach the toughest part of its 2017 schedule and things haven’t gone exactly according to plan.
Here’s what Malzahn said at his press conference Tuesday about the recent days’ events:
- Malzahn starts out by saying that Kyle Davis has been dismissed from the team for breaking team rules. “We wish him nothing but the best moving forward.”
- The loss at LSU was tough, and Malzahn takes “full responsibility.” Now the focus is moving forward.
- “We’re a little beat up as a team right now … we’re got some guys that are not 100 percent. That’s normal this time of year.”
- On all the dismissals and transfers: “I’m not going to compare. Every situation is different … Every time a player has to be dismissed that hurts. We’ve got a lot of great kids on this team.”
- “Obviously when you look back you’d like to do things different,” Malzahn says of the plan at LSU.
- On whether Malzahn was involved with the play calling: “No, I’ve been doing the same thing the whole time. … Chip’s done a great job.”
- On Jarrett Stidham’s ability to audible: “Jarrett probably has more flexibility than any other quarterback we’ve had.”
- Auburn’s poor second-half performances in losses: “We’ve got to do better in second halves … We’ve got a plan to do that.” Malzahn says it’s execution and play calling, all encompassing.
- “As a head coach we have a philosophy.” Malzahn says offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey was hired to make things more balanced and they have been.
- On moving forward: “We get leads in the second half, we can’t let that happen again. We’ve got to do better, I’ve got to do better.”
- “As bad as we feel for that last game, we need to go to Arkansas and get a victory. We need to heal up for a week,” Malzahn said.
- On the absence of Tre’ Williams and Tray Matthews: “That’s pretty tough, any time your leaders go down. But that’s an opportunity for other players.”
- Malzahn says he’ll know more about injuries this week. Williams should be able to practice. Malzahn isn’t sure about Matthews.
- Center Casey Dunn will be out this week, according to Malzahn.
- If Mike Horton can’t go, Prince Tega Wanogho and Marquell Harrell will play (similar to end of LSU game).
- On Dunn’s injury: “Casey’s a tough guy. He was begging to go back in. He showed a lot of guts, a lot of courage.”
- On Kamryn Pettway’s involvement in the offense: “The biggest issue is he hasn’t been healthy. … He’s getting closer.”
- “I think up to the last week we’ve done a good job, probably as good as anybody, of spreading the ball around.”
- “We’ve got great fans. Our fans are passionate and they want to win championships and they should. Any time you blow a 20-point lead on the road it’s frustrating. I’m frustrated. … That’s in the rearview mirror.”
- On Heath Evans’ harsh comments: “I can’t remember if I’ve talked to Heath since I’ve been the head coach. Heath’s a TV guy and TV guys have opinions.”
- On preventing this loss from spilling into another one: “I truly believe our players, our coaches, our leadership won’t let that happen. … I really believe in this team.”
- On concerns about job security: “The only thing I’m worried about is beating Arkansas.”
- On animosity in this series: “I don’t know. I get along great with Bret [Bielema] as a person, as a coach. They’re ultra competitive and they want to beat us. We’re ultra competitive and we want to beat them.”