Gus Malzahn Press Conference Review: The Vanderbilt Game
Head Coach Gus Malzahn (Photo: Matt Gaught)
Auburn Football matched its win total from a year ago on Saturday, with a 23-16 win over Vanderbilt at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game would see quarterback John Franklin III earn his first career start, and Kamryn Pettway eclipses the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the season. Many questions needed answering following the game, about injuries, play calling, and their opponent, Vanderbilt. Head Coach Gus Malzahn discussed everything related to his team, including the decision not to start Sean White at Quarterback today, and much more. Malzahn opened the post-game press conference on Saturday by saying that he was proud of his player's efforts against a solid Vanderbilt team. He said that considering the circumstances of White not starting, the game kicking off at 11 A.M., and Deshaun Davis’ ejection for targeting in the first half, that his team faced adversity head on, and came out on top. The biggest question of the day was the decision to start John Franklin III over Sean White for the Vanderbilt game. During the announcement of the pregame starting lineups, White’s name was called, but Franklin took the first snap. After a first half that would see Auburn gain 124 yards (6 yards of passing), White came out of the locker room and took over the offense. Auburn would gain 262 yards of offense in the second half, which would propel them to the win. Malzahn said that it was not a disciplinary issue, but a nagging injury. “He was banged up. He was hurt and couldn’t practice, didn’t take one practice snap, so we just built our game plan around John (Franklin) and the first nine and everything that goes with that.” Malzahn said of White, “At halftime, we just made the move. He was ready to go and obviously gave our offense a spark. It looked like our offense. I’m real proud of him. He showed a lot of toughness.” Malzahn did not give any specifics as to how White was injured. Running back Kamryn Pettway was also injured in the 4th quarter of the game. Malzahn says that at this time, it appears that Pettway just pulled a muscle. Speaking of Pettway, he eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Linebacker Deshaun Davis was ejected in the game for targeting, Malzahn says that the “targeting” rule is still a mystery to him. “It’s one play. It’s getting hard to be able to coach what a good lick is. We’ve just got to keep coaching our guys and hopefully, we’ll get better at it. It’s tough.” In his absence, transfer TJ Neal stepped up and had a big game. The graduate senior finished with 9 total tackles. “I am proud of him because he is a grad transfer. He had not been able to play a whole lot. He has a good attitude and he got his opportunity. We are just about out of linebackers. He did a super job. Montavious Atkinson did a super job. They played a lot of snaps.” Finally, Malzahn talked about next week’s game, a road tilt at Georgia. The Bulldogs have not had the season that they have wanted, and Auburn feels that they may have a shot to win in Athens for the first time since 2005. Malzahn is not taking Georgia too lightly. “We haven’t won much lately. We have to find a way to solve that. I really like our team. I like the way they responded at Ole Miss. The thing about this team is they are going to fight. They are going to get after it. They are going to scratch and claw. We just have to find a way.” Auburn will face Georgia next week in Athens, the kickoff time has yet to be determined.