Gus Malzahn Press Conference Review: The LSU Game
Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics)
Auburn defeated LSU on Saturday, 18-13. It was your standard Auburn vs. LSU matchup. Low-scoring, great defense, and a little magic happening in-between.
Head Coach Gus Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers had not won an SEC game inside Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2014, when the Tigers pulled out a 35-28 victory over South Carolina. All 18 points came off the leg of Junior Kicker Daniel Carlson. His 6 successful field goals tied a school record, that Al Del Greco has had since 1982. This is the first time since 2008 that Auburn won a game without a touchdown, since 2008 at Mississippi State, when the Tigers beat the Bulldogs, 3-2. This is also the first time since 2006, since Auburn won a game at home without scoring an offensive touchdown. Auburn scored 27 points against Florida in 2006, to pick up a win.
Sean White had another great night, completing 19 passes for 234 yards. For the third game in a row, White did not throw an interception, however, he did not throw a touchdown pass. Kerryon Johnson led rushing with 93 yards, which was only eight yards fewer that LSU running back Leonard Fournette’s total. Johnson was also the leading receiver, after he caught 4 passes for 68 yards. Tray Matthews was the leading tackler for Auburn, with 9.
For Head Coach Gus Malzahn, he had a great night. He mentioned in his postgame press conference that this was the first time that he has let offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee call plays for the offense, and says that Lashlee did a great job in doing so. What else did he say? Let’s recap:
On the win:
On Tuesday, during his mid-week press conference, Malzahn had a bit of a somber tone to him. He seemed defeated. He shared the pain that the Auburn fanbase was feeling, and he knew that he was on the verge of making great things happen. He opened by saying that this win felt great. “It feels good to win a game like this. It was hard fought, with a lot of adversity and ups and downs. It was really a team effort. I am very proud of our players and I think it will give us some momentum moving forward. The crowd was unbelievable. I want to thank the Auburn fans and the Auburn Family. Our students were off the charts and really helped us late in the game.”
On the last play:
LSU’s last play was at the Auburn 10 yard line, with one second to go. LSU snapped the ball, and threw to the end zone for a completed pass. Touchdown, right? The previous play, LSU had been penalized for an illegal shift, with one second remaining on the clock. After further review, it was determined that the LSU offense had not snapped the ball before the clock read 00:00, therefore, the touchdown did not count. “There was only one second on the clock and I knew they were going to wind it. When he did and the clock hit zero, I was pretty confident that time had already expired. I knew that the clock went to zero. It was just a matter of going up to the booth and confirming.”
On Daniel Carlson:
Daniel Carlson provided the fireworks tonight. He connected on 6 field goals on 6 opportunities, and that was enough to defeat LSU. Carlson is now 12-12 on the season. Malzahn was proud of Carlson’s performance, but in more ways that one would imagine. “Daniel is the best kicker in college football. I think he confirmed that tonight. He had a 51-yard field goal, and he had some pressure kicks in the fourth quarter. Those are the hardest ones, I don’t care how far it is. He also kicked every kick off in the end zone. We were worried about their returners. He is a huge weapon and he came through tonight.”
On Sean White:
As mentioned earlier, Sean White had another great game, throwing for 234 yards, and no interceptions. Malzahn feels that White is improving, and that his toughness is helping this program. “He’s a tough guy. I thought he made some good throws. He got hit a couple times, he really got hit a couple times. I thought he managed the game well. He had a high percentage. He was 19-of-26 with no interceptions, and I think that’s good against that defense. We were almost 50 percent on third down, and that was a big key. We talked earlier in the week about needing to get third-and-shorts. We got quite a few of those and then we converted some third-and-mediums. That was a big part of the game, and we had some guys step up and make some pretty big catches on third down too.”
On Carl Lawson:
Even though he did not lead in tackles, Carl Lawson had a big night on the Auburn defense. Lawson ended with 4 total tackles. Two of those, were sacks. Lawson played a key role in tonight’s game, and Malzahn was proud.
On Kerryon Johnson:
Johnson was the leading rusher tonight for Auburn, and played a big role late in the game. Will this change the philosophy that Malzahn has on using him and Kamrym Pettway as a “co-threat’? “I think we got two good running backs. That was a big question coming into the season, our running backs not being proven. I think after four games we feel good about our running back position with those two guys carrying the football. They are a little bit different but I think that’s a good thing as far as offense goes.”
Just how important was this win for the program?:
“This is the type of win our guys needed. I’ve been saying that we were close and I knew that we were close. We had two tough losses that we talked about Tuesday and for our guys to respond and beat a top-20 team, that can run the ball and play defense, is really good for us.” Auburn has played three top-15 teams in the first four weeks of the season, and earning a win tonight over LSU will give the team confidence moving forward.
What does he have to say to the fans after tonight?:
Malzahn was appreciative of the fans. He says that they have a lot to look forward to this season.
Gus is known to be a visor guy, why did he wear a hat tonight?:
On College Gameday, former Florida and South Carolina Head Football Coach (and fellow visor extraordinaire) Steve Spurrior picked Auburn to beat LSU tonight, because “Gus is a visor guy.” Malzahn’s response? ““Did he? Yeah I’m going to have to apologize to him.” Malzahn sported a hat tonight, instead of his usual visor. The reason? “My daughters said something about me wearing a visor and needing to put on a hat because I’m going bald, so I’m going to wear a hat from here on out.”
Is this a waffle house night?:
Short answer? Yes.