Auburn is using its bye week to develop its depth, get healthy and correct the issues that have hurt the team in the first half of the season.
“The off week couldn’t come at a better time,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said on his radio show Monday night.
The 3-2 Tigers got a win going into the bye week, but the coaching staff still wants the team to make more explosive plays on offense and develop the second-string defense.
“You always want to develop depth early in the year,” Malzahn said. “Once we go past the (first-string players), rotating guys in, we just need some guys to start stepping up.”
Malzahn said that the staff would use the next three days to work with some of the younger rotation players before beginning preparation for Kentucky. After Thursday, the players will get the weekend off before returning to practice on Sunday and playing against the Wildcats on Thursday, Oct. 15.
The time off should allow the Tigers to come out of the bye week relatively healthy to begin the second half of the season.
“We do need to heal up,” Malzahn said. “We had three or four players play in the game (against San Jose State) that were injured, and we got a lot of guys banged up.”
Auburn scored its highest point total of the season (35) in the win over San Jose State, but the Tigers only threw the ball a total of 10 times and just twice in the second half. Part of that was because the running game was working so well, but picking up bigger plays in the passing game is another focus of the coaching staff.
“We got to get more explosive plays and how you do that is throwing the ball down the field,” Malzahn said. “This off week, we’ll work extremely hard at that and you’ll see more of it as the season goes on.”
Auburn’s offense will also continue to implement the wildcat package featuring freshman running back Kerryon Johnson. Malzahn used it for the first time against San Jose State last Saturday.
“He (Johnson) has a unique skill set and I feel it’s something we can be successful with,” Malzahn said.
Auburn has not lived up to the high preseason expectations that were placed on the team, but the Tigers still have a chance to prove they are a better squad than they have shown thus far.
“We will definitely be better after this off week,” Malzahn said.
Malzahn says one thing Auburn will have to improve on is explosive plays "and you do that by throwing the ball down the field."
— Tom Green (@AUBlog) October 6, 2015