Gus Malzahn Press Conference Review: September 27
Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Auburn Athletics)
Head Coach Gus Malzahn met with the media today for the first time since Saturday, when he led his team to an 18-13 victory over LSU. Malzahn was not as tightly wound as he usually is during media availability. He entered the room with a smile, and answered questions in a loose manner. His mentality this week, was a complete 180-degree turn from a week ago, where he addressed the media with a somber tone.
Malzahn had a lot to talk about this week, so let’s recap.
On Play Calling:
The headline following the game, was Malzahn’s decision to hand the offensive play calling reins to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee. “In this day and time, to be a head coach and call an offense is not realistic, at least for me.” Malzahn said about handing the play calling over to Lashlee. Malzahn’s objective at the beginning of the season, was to be more hands-on with his team. After the Clemson loss, he made that decision for the betterment of the team. He said that it was difficult to get out of that rhythm, but feels that after the first week, that it was the right decision. He also said that he was not “coaching angry” on Saturday. Malzahn also says that there was zero outside influence in his decision.
Another issue that the Auburn offense has experienced recently, is red zone performance. Auburn did not score a touchdown in last week’s win, but had many opportunities to, especially within the 20-yard line. Is playcalling an issue? Is it the play itself? “I think it is all of the above. Before the last two years, we were one of the best teams in the country, year-in and year-out. Beginning last year and the start of this year, it’s been the exact opposite. I think it’s just an overall evaluation of all of the above: an evaluation of the scheme, what fits our players, the play calling, all of the above. That’s our number one concern from the offensive standpoint. That’s the number one thing we have to solve. We’re going to focus on that like crazy. Let’s put it this way, you will see some different things in the red zone moving forward.”
On Daniel Carlson:
Kicker Daniel Carlson won his second SEC Special Teams Player of the Week award of the season, following a game that saw him succeed on all six field goal attempts. Those six field goals would ultimately be all the scoring that Auburn would do on Saturday night. Malzahn says that Carlson is a special player. “He’s a game changer. He’s a weapon. You’ve got confidence to let him kick it 50-plus. There probably aren’t a whole lot of coaches that have that luxury.”
Malzahn was also asked if Carlson was the best kicker that he has ever coached, “Cody Parkey was pretty good, but I don’t think Cody had quite the leg. Daniel, he can kick them from 65, and he can kick them pretty regularly from 65.”
He also poked fun at an incident that happened on Saturday night involving one of Carlson’s kickoffs. One of Auburn University’s student photographers, Ashley Ward, tried to catch a kickoff that sailed through the end zone, which ultimately hit her in the face. The video of the incident has since gone viral. “He’s kicking the thing in the end zone and hitting people. Don’t try to catch his kicks.”
On Freshmen Kam Martyn, Malik Miller, and Kyle Davis:
One question that Malzahn was asked, had to do with freshmen running backs Malik Miller and Kam Martyn, and their role in games. They’ve been mainly getting the number two reps in practice for four weeks. They got some playing time in game two and our confidence in them has been growing. They’re both very talented. If called upon, we expect them to do well.”
Malzahn is also pleased with the way that Kyle Davis has played this season, considering his limited action in fall camp. “He’s still learning as we go. His role will increase each week. We have to learn how to bring our other young receivers along as well.”
On Paul James III:
Defensive end Paul James III was expected to contribute heavily to the defensive line this season, but is battling an injury, according to Malzahn. “Paul James has a knee injury and it doesn’t look like he will be back for the rest of the season. That is very unfortunate. It happened last week in practice. He was really doing a good job of improving, but it looks like he is done for the rest of the season.”
On the firing of LSU Head Coach Les Miles:
On Sunday, LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva made the decision to fire Head Coach Les Miles. Auburn would be the last opponent that Miles would face as the head coach. “Les is a legend.” said Malzahn of Miles, “Les is a guy that he’s has helped make the SEC what it is currently. He’s one of those guys. He’s a great coach. He’s a great person. He’s a guy coming into the SEC I looked up to. He always treated me great. You look at our league and we’ve lost some legends the last year with Mark Richt, Steve Spurrier and now Les Miles. It’s unfortunate. He’s one of the best in the business.” Malzahn does feel that Miles will coach again, if he wants to.
On one of the Toomer’s Oaks catching fire:
Early Sunday morning, a 29-year-old Auburn resident named Jochen Wiest was arrested after video evidence showed that he intentionally set one of the Toomer’s Corner Oaks on fire. As of this post, Weist has been charged with first degree criminal mischief, and misdemeanor charges of desecration of a venerable object and public intoxication. He has not been released from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, and his bond has been set at $4,500. Malzahn hopes that Wiest is punished “big time”. Malzahn also made sure to give credit to Herron Taylor, the Auburn student who ran down Wiest as soon as he set the tree on fire. “First of all, the lady that caught the guy and had enough courage and guts to go call him out, I think that’s big.”
Malzahn and his team continue preparations for homecoming against ULM. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30PM on Saturday.