Malzahn’s post-game comments after Auburn thrashes Arkansas 56-3

Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn

Opening Statement… “First off, I’m very excited for our team. I’m excited for our players and coaches. We played a complete game. We talked about improving each game. First of all, our defense holding that group to 25 yards rushing was really unbelievable. That was one of the goals: to try to make them one-dimensional and try to get after the quarterback. Our guys up front in those passing situations did a super job. Our defense, I can’t say enough about and they’re improving each week. Offensively, our plan was we felt we needed to run the football. We were able to run the football, which was a big, big thing. I think we had 543 yards rushing against that bunch, which is really good. I told our guys that that was one of the more complete games that I think we’ve played since I got here. The good thing is that we are improving, and that’s really the name of the game. I’m really happy for our guys. The crowd was unbelievable, once again. We are in a good spot moving forward.”

On the physical play in the trenches on both sides of the ball… “Our defensive front has been very good all year. The week off really helped us. We got fresher and healthier up front. Offensively, we just kind of carried over from the Mississippi State game about the physicality up front and getting a push. Kameron Pettway, once again, had a big-time game. Stanton Truitt really came on as a good change of pace, and of course, Kameron Martin had the big run. We didn’t have Kerryon Johnson; he was hurt. He wasn’t 100 percent, but we dressed him out and tried to see what he could do in pre-game, so it was good to be able to rest him. The big thing offensively is we didn’t have any turnovers. I think that is a sign of good things moving forward.”

On how the defense performed tonight“It feels great. We were clicking. Rhett (Lashlee) really had it going. He and Herb Hand had a good plan and got the tempo going. You guys have watched us before; when we get the tempo going, especially being able to tempo and downhill run, we are at our best. We had some big plays and the big pass play, which I thought was big, too. Sean White continues to improve. I really felt good tonight. He had a couple of big runs, and we talked preseason about the quarterback needing to be a runner. He is definitely sufficient enough when called upon.”

On the offensive line and averaging nine yards per rush… “Wow, did we? That’s really something. Our offensive line is getting better. We are starting to kind of gel. I felt the off week was good. We are a downhill running team and were able to do that tonight.”

Is starting Golson at center and James at tackle the plan moving forward… “That’s just what we felt like. We felt like we played very well the last game out. We felt like we would stick with that lineup. Xavier Dampeer is a very good player in his own right, and it gives us six guys who have started before. That was kind of the thinking going into this thing.”

On Eli Stove and other younger players playing more… “We talked about in the off-week our older guys resting and getting healthy. The young guys — we’ve got some really talented young guys, and we focused on the young guys getting some more reps. We just felt like getting (Stove) the ball first play — that really set the tone. He can run. He’s a good athlete. We had a lot of young guys out there. I really thought they took that next step. Nate Craig made a really good catch, and of course Kyle Davis has been playing well all year. It’s good that those young guys are starting to grow up.”

On Stanton Truitt… “He’s a great change of pace for Pettway. He made some great runs inside, he bounced the ball and of course got the wheel route to the field. Sean White just hit him in stride right there, and when you’re able to run the football, the play actions open up.”

Did playing time against Mississippi State help Truitt… “It helped a lot. He went full-time tailback about three or four weeks ago, so for him to be able to do this and play at that high of a level really says a lot about him. He had a very good game and it was great to see.”

On the defensive line holding the SEC’s leading rusher to 22 yards… “That’s a wow thing, really, to be able to hold him to 25 yards rushing.”

On third down focus… “Third down was one of our points that we were really wanting to continue. We were 7-12 and our goal was to be 50 percent and we felt like if were 50 percent we would score some points there. So we’re getting better at third down. Our third down defense has been great all year. I think we were 3-15. I think our offense and defense on third down ranks in the top 20. So we have to continue that.”

On Sean White’s runs… “Yeah. Anytime you have Kamryn Pettway running the ball successfully downhill, they all focus on him. It just takes that one time to sneak out; nobody really knew he had the ball. He split them there. He’s faster than people think he is. He showed some speed. I knew he wasn’t going to take it to the house, but it was nice to see him a long run.”

About the Arkansas and Auburn players at pre-game midfield… “I don’t know. We have never had that happen before in our prayer circle. But we were wanting to win the football game, and we were plenty motivated.”

Was the team fresher after the off week… “Any time you play like we played tonight, it gives you confidence. We’ll see how banged up we are. Right now everyone is feeling pretty good, but it was a physical game. It was a good physical game for us.”

On the big picture… “Here’s what we’re doing. We are playing one week in a row. We’re going to Ole Miss next week, and that’s all we’re thinking about. We will see how we are at the end of the year. We’re playing good football right now. We will continue to improve, and that is the only thing on our mind.”

Does he remember a more dominant all-around performance…“This would be the game. I’ll have to have time to re-watch everything and break it down, but when you beat a Top 20 team that played well last year against a conference opponent, that shows something. We played pretty good in all three phases.”

On Auburn’s lack of penalties… “We talked at the mid-way point. I’m not a big stat guy, but a lot of times halfway through the year, you try to figure out what you’re good at and what you need to improve on. Penalty yards was one of the best. We were one of the best in country for penalty yards. We need to continue to build on that. I think it says a lot about our players and their discipline. I think it says a lot about our assistant coaches. That’s the way they coach so we have to continue that.”

On Eli Stove running the ball and running down the kick returner…“He can really run. You’re talking about the one that called back? I just saw the flag but I really didn’t watch. You just told me something I didn’t know.”

On Stanton Truitt…“He’s in a good spot right now. I believe everything happens for a reason. He’s got an opportunity, and he seized the moment and now he gives us another weapon in the backfield. He’s a change of pace type of guy. The big question coming into this year was the running backs. Do we have enough running backs and are they durable? I think it gives us some more depth.”

Has the team improved from the first part of the season… “It’s a hard question to answer right offhand. We’re getting better. But this is just one game. We have to continue to get better. We have improved. If you look at it, we lost to two pretty big teams, and I wish we would have played better. But it’s all about getting better. Very few teams in college football this time of year get better. That’s our challenge; if we can continue to do that, we’ll see what happens.”

On Kyle Davis… “He got a lot of third downs. He’s kind of been our third down guy.”

On playing a complete game…“It shows a lot about the depth of our team. We put a lot of twos in there. We continued to play good defense and we continued to play good offense. So it says something about our depth. We challenged them at halftime and they came out and played well.”

Categories: Auburn