Gus Malzahn Press Conference Review: August 30
Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics)
Auburn Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn addressed the media on Tuesday, prior to his team taking on second-ranked Clemson on Saturday night at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Malzahn spoke about a variety of topics, including Stephen Roberts, Quarterbacks, and, of course, Clemson.
On Stephen Roberts:
Stephen Roberts will not start in the Clemson game following his arrest last Wednesday night. When asked, Coach Malzahn said that Roberts will sit for this game, and could sit for future games. Malzahn does not want his players to carry firearms.“We don’t want them. We don’t want our players with them.”
What we know now, is that Sean White will start at quarterback against Clemson. What he have left to discover, is who will be second string. Malzahn kept the media guessing on Tuesday, by not giving an answer when reporters asked, but by saying that there is a possibility of all three quarterbacks (White, Jeremy Johnson, and John Franklin III) will see significant time this season.
Sophomore Kerryon Johnson will take over as the starting running back for the Tigers in 2016, following the dismissal of Jovon Robinson. Malzahn feels confident in Johnson’s abilities to carry the ball up to 20 times per game. “We recruited him to be the guy” said Malzahn of Johnson. Malzahn appreciates his toughness. “Last year, in fairness to him, he was banged up, but he’s a trooper and he continued to play when he was banged up when some guys wouldn’t have played. So I know he’s a tough guy. He’s a confident guy. He’s ready for the challenge. We’ll see what happens.”
Young Receiving Corp:
Auburn will have one upperclassmen starting at wide receiver against Clemson, that’s Marcus Davis. Other than Davis, three sophomores and a redshirt freshman have the possibility of catching a few passes on Saturday night. Malzahn mentioned the future of the wide receiver position at Auburn, and he likes what he sees. “They’re every bit of who we thought they were. It’s just going to be a matter of how quick they can get comfortable and confident. We’re going to play them. They’re going to be out there for the first game. The future at wide receiver is very exciting. Once those guys do get comfortable, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Who will be in the box?
Coaching is all about strategy, and Coach Malzahn announced who will coach on the sidelines, and who will be coaching from the press box on Saturday. Offensively, offensive line coach Herb Hand will have box duties, while defensive coordinator Kevin Steele will represent the defense in the box. On the field, Coach Tim Horton will handle the offensive line duties, as well as an offensive graduate assistant.
Coach Malzahn has respect for Clemson, as many coaches, players and fans alike do. He feels that Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables is one of the best in the business, and is impressed with Clemson linebacker Ben Boulware. One of the bullet points heading into the game, is how to stop Heisman favorite, quarterback Deshaun Watson, on Saturday. Malzahn shares his thoughts on the Clemson signal caller. “They run a very similar offense (to ours.) He does a very good job within the system, but his strength is probably when things break down and when they choose to run him. He’s an excellent runner. He has a very good first step, similar to Nick Marshall, as far as his explosiveness. He’s also experienced, not just experienced, but experienced in big games. That’s kind of the best of both worlds.”
Keeping on the topic of preparation, Malzahn recalls another time that Clemson visited the Plains, and how Auburn’s offense adjusted. “I think when we played these guys in 2010, I think we got behind and I think we had to have a 2-minute drive to kick a field goal to put points on the board before halftime. So, I think from a coach’s standpoint you’ve got to be prepared for every scenario, and you’ve got to be able to adjust.”
Malzahn was also asked about Clemson’s defense, primarily the defensive line. “I think their defensive line is very good. They’re very aggressive. They put pressure on the offense. They try to play on the offensive line of scrimmage. They’re similar to our defensive line. The good thing is we practice against our defensive line every day. I really hope that’ll help us not only in this game, but also in the games to come.”
Auburn kicks off the 2016 football season on Saturday night against Clemson, at 8PM.