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Gus Malzahn Press Conference Review: The Arkansas State Game

Auburn Head Football Coach, Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics/Dakota Sumpter)

The Auburn Tigers earned their first win of the 2016 season on Saturday night over Arkansas State at Jordan-Hare Stadium, 51-14.

In the game, Auburn posted 706 total yards for the first time since 2013, a win over Western Carolina. Two players, Kamryn Pettway and Tony Stevens, had significant roles in this game, despite not having a single snap in last week’s loss to Clemson. Head Coach Gus Malzahn also seemed to tweak the offensive game plan as well. He mentioned during his midweek press conference, that he was trashing the three quarterback system that he presented over Clemson, and sticking with one, Sean White. White threw for three touchdown passes, which tripled the amount of tosses he had last season.

Head Coach Gus Malzahn was pleased following Saturday’s win, here are the highlight’s from his post game presser:

Opening statement:

Malzahn opened by saying that the win showed just how hard that they worked to improve from last week, to this week. He praised special teams.. as he should. Auburn did not have to punt at all on Saturday, they even had a fake field goal, where Daniel Carlson scored on a 20-yard rush. He is not going to let his team celebrate this win for too long, though, as Texas A&M comes to town next week, with LSU right behind them.

On the first team offense, Sean White:

Many players got to see the field, and record stats in this game. Nate Craig-Myers, Tony Stevens, Darius Slayton, Kamryn Pettway, and a host of other Tigers saw plenty of field time in the win over Arkansas State. We even got to see more of quarterback John Franklin III’s running ability late in the game. “We came out and looked like an Auburn offense for the first time.” Said Malzahn, “When we can run the football, it opens everything else up. We had a lot of different guys carry the football and I think our offensive line got better.” Malzahn also liked the way that quarterback Sean White handled tough situations, including the first touchdown of the night, when he pitched to Kerryon Johnson while he was going down in an attempted sack.

Tony Stevens:

Tony Stevens recorded 75 yards on 4 catches, two of those going for touchdowns. Malzahn hopes that his performance will boost his confidence.

John Franklin III:

As Malzahn mentioned, his plan was to stick with one quarterback. Franklin, however, did get to see the field late in the game. His final numbers were 70 rushing yards on 4 attempts. “He was close to taking it to the house a couple of times. It was really good for him to get out there and get some game reps too.”

The “Killer K’s”:

Running back Kamryn Pettway had a bigger role this week, along with Kerryon Johnson, the one-two punch had a solid night. “I think it is very valuable. We are still learning about those two guys as well. KJ has had two games in a row in which he has carried the ball numerous times and tonight was (Kamryn) Pettway’s first time to really carry the load. Those guys will continue to get better and they could be a good one-two punch moving forward.”

On what he learned about the team tonight:

Malzahn says that he learned about how well his team responds to a challenge. He feels that since the offense did not perform to their standard last week, that fed motivation into them. Which is vital, since SEC play opens next week against a tough Texas A&M team.

On the fake field goal:

Daniel Carlson scored a touchdown tonight (yes, that one) on a 20-yard fake field goal rush in the second quarter. “We felt like it was the right opportunity and we got the right look. We felt that it would be there. Coach (Scott) Fountain and coach (Herb) Hand are in charge of field goals and they came to me in the middle of the week and felt like we had a chance. So we got the look and our holder made an outstanding throw. That’s not an easy deal, and I don’t know if you saw but you had one guy coming in and then one guy looped out. We weren’t expecting the guy to loop out and (Stovall) just made a great toss with it and of course Daniel’s an athlete, he can run and it was pretty well executed.” The play was executed so smoothly, that even Arkansas State Head Coach Blake Anderson had to chime in. “Yeah, that one is kind of a dagger for you. That’s an execution thing. We are not really bringing the rush off of the edge. We should have been in good shape to play it, and it was just poor eye discipline.”

Landon Rice:

Rumors have circulated over the last week of freshman Tight End, Landon Rice’s status with the team. Coach Malzahn did confirm tonight that Rice is no longer with the team, citing “personal reasons.”

Auburn will host Texas A&M next Saturday to open conference play. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00PM at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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