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Gus Malzahn Press Conference Review: September 6

Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics)

Auburn Head Football Coach Gus Malzahn addressed the media on Tuesday during his weekly press conference. Malzahn recapped the Clemson game, as well as previewed the Arkansas State game upcoming.

The two big takeaways, was his decision to move quarterback John Franklin III to second string quarterback, behind Sean White, who will get his second start of the season on Saturday night against Arkansas State. Malzahn also announced that defensive back Stephen Roberts has served a one-game suspension for his arrest two weeks ago. Malzahn was not clear on when/how Roberts would be used, but he is no longer suspended.

Malzahn opened by speaking about the defense, and how pleased he was with their performance. He then addressed the game plan, where three quarterbacks were used. “We thought it would be successful, obviously, it was not.”

Saturday’s game will be the second time in Gus Malzahn’s tenure that he will face his former team, the Arkansas State Red Wolves. “They have an outstanding head coach in Blake Anderson. He is one of the up and coming guys. They have done an outstanding recruiting. They have a really good team.” Auburn last faced Arkansas State in 2013. The Tigers won that game, 38-9 at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

What moving Franklin to second string will mean for Jeremy Johnson:

Jeremy Johnson will still get reps during practice, and will be ready if needed.

On the Offensive Line:

Malzahn discussed the offensive line. A new center, last season’s center moved to left tackle, and a new starter at right tackle. He feels that the line got better once the game progressed, and is glad that unit has a game under their belt.

On playing three quarterbacks Saturday against Clemson:

Within the first few sentences of Malzahn’s press conference, he admitted that paying three quarterbacks was in the game plan, and that he felt that it would be successful. He admitted that it was not the best move, and the situation has been re-evaluated. “The change in and out hurt our tempo” Malzahn said of the game plan. About White, Malzahn appreciates his toughness and wit. “Sean is a tough guy. He took some licks, he hangs in there, he can throw the ball downfield. He did an outstanding job of buying himself some time. He has a great control of our offense, too.” Malzahn says that he will evaluate Franklin as the season goes on as to how he will be used. “He’s an inexperienced guy, and he got some experience, which I think is a bright spot. He knows how he’s going to react, the coaches know how he is going to react, he’s coachable and has a good attitude.” Sean White will start on Saturday against Arkansas State, with John Franklin III will be second string.

Kerryon Johnson’s performance, and the likelihood of Kamryn Pettway getting carries against Arkansas State:

Kerryon Johnson took over for Jovon Robinson following his dismissal from the team during fall camp. Malzahn says that Johnson was recruited to be the running back who will carry the ball 25-30 times per game, and has faith that he can do that. Johnson rushed for 94 yards on 23 carries last Saturday vs. Clemson. “We learned a lot about Kerryon (on Saturday)” said Malzahn of the sophomore. “It was a physical game. He earned a lot of his yards after contact, which I though was very good. He protected the football. I was very encouraged by him.” Malzahn did say that Kamryn Pettway will have a bigger role on Saturday against Arkansas State, as he did not record a carry in Saturday’s loss to Clemson.

On re-evaluating the team and strategy:

Malzahn focused on the positives, including how well the defense played against the number two team in the nation. He discussed the youth of some of the players. “We learned a lot about our guys, and we will continue to learn in the next couple of games about our guys.” says Malzahn, “We played a pretty good defense, and we have the chance to have a pretty good offense. You will see this offense improve.” Malzahn spoke of hope as well, by saying that the team learned that they can play with any team in the country.

On Kyle Davis and Nate Craig-Myers:

The young receivers were used during the game. Davis brought in a 43 yard reception during Saturday's game. Malzahn liked what he saw, saying that fans can expect to see them on the field even more as the season goes on.

Will Herb Hand stay in the box?:

Auburn Offensive Line Coach Herb Hand will continue to coach from the press box on Saturday, along with Defensive Coordinator, Kevin Steele. Malzahn was asked about offensive line breakdowns, and if Herb coaching from the box was still a good idea. “From an offensive line standpoint, that was their first rodeo. You’re talking about three changes, and a pretty good defensive line. In their defense, it’s a feeling out period. In the second half, we moved the football, and did a solid job. When you have an inexperienced, young, or a new group… you’re looking from game one, to game two. I’m hoping not only can we can do that as a team, but on the offensive line, too.”

Trooper Taylor:

Arkansas State Cornerbacks coach, Trooper Taylor, served as wide receivers coach for Auburn from 2009-2013. Three of those years, were for an Auburn offense led by Gus Malzahn. “Trooper is a wonderful person, he has a great family.” Malzahn said of his former co-worker. “He has been very successful at Arkansas State, and I knew that he would be a good fit for them. His son (Red Wolves DB Blaise Taylor) is a big time player, too.” In an interview with, Taylor said that Malzahn is best when everyone thinks that he is at his worst.

On Arkansas State’s defense being poor against the pass:

Malzahn put it simply as “we are going to try to move the ball anyway that we can”

Auburn looks to pick up their first win of the season on Saturday, at home against Arkansas State. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30PM.

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