Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn Press Conference Comments

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn press conference

Tuesday, August 27, 2019, previewing the Oregon game

Opening statement…“We’re real excited it’s game week. The game has come up upon us. You look at Oregon and we’re playing one of the top teams in the country – one of the most experienced teams if not the most experienced team in the country. You look at their offense, it starts with their quarterback. He is well-deserved as one of the top quarterbacks in the country. He can make all the throws and keep plays alive. Their two running backs – I’m very impressed with those guys. Their wide receivers come down with the 50-50 balls quite a bit and of course, their offensive line is the most experienced offensive line in the country. It will be a good test for our defense.

“When I look at their defense, of course they’ve got a new defensive coordinator who came from Boise State and did a super job. They run a lot of multiple fronts and that presents a lot of challenges. On their back end, they’ve got very experienced guys for that. The first game is all about adjustments; you work all summer and during the off-season to predict what you’re going to get. After the first quarter, whether it’s offense or defense, you settle in and figure out exactly what they’re going to do.

“Really, for us, it’s about winning the line of scrimmage on the offensive front and defensive front. We really appreciate our fans and we’re looking for a big turnout in Dallas. Last year against Washington, it was like a home-field advantage and we’re hoping for the same thing. This season, we want to make our fans proud, our former players proud with the way we play, that hard-nosed, physical, disciplined, good Auburn football. That’s been our message and that won’t just be our message this first game, but all season. Overall, we’re excited. Our team’s excited, our coaches are excited to get to play one of the top teams in the country and it’s going to be a good measuring stick to see where this team is at after this first game.”

Will Anthony Schwartz be available…“We don’t know the answer to that. It could be a game-time situation as far as a decision goes with that. We’re hopeful, but we don’t know the answer to that yet.” 

Six players are listed on the depth chart at running back…“Here’s the positive of that. We’ve got a lot of confidence in all of them and they all could possibly play. Boobie Whitlow will be the first guy that goes out, but we could possibly play them all and we’re impressed with all of them.”

Nick Coe is listed at OLB and DT…“Nick is going to move around, Nick’s a starter. With different personnel groupings they give us, he’ll move around, but he gives us a lot of flexibility. He can play outside, inside, he can play off the ball -- he’s a very versatile player that gives our defense a lot of flexibility.”

Have you ever had a player be at both OLB and DT before…“It’s rare, but I think that’s a good rare.”

How important is Coe…“He’s very important; he had a very good year last year. He was one of the guys that thought about leaving, but he chose to come back. He gives us a lot of flexibility, he can play inside, he’s really good as a defensive tackle or a nose, he’s really good when he’s on the outside rushing the passer and when you get him off the ball. So he gives you flexibility; like I said, I think that’s a very good thing moving forward not just for this game, but for the whole season.”

Coynis Miller status…“He’s been able to slowly get acclimated. You could see him on the field some, and we’ll see how that goes.”

On Gary Walker…“Gary Walker is an Auburn man. He is tough and has sacrificed a lot to get to this point. He is on the roster for a reason and he’s earned that.”

His advice to Bo Nix…“You are talking about a true freshman whose first start is against one of the best teams in the country. College Gameday is going to be there and Kirk Herbstreit is going to be calling the game; it’s as big as it’s going to get. We need to be really good around him; that has been our message. I am just asking him to play and be himself. We are going to try to do some things he feels comfortable with. We are taking in a game plan that is really built around him and what his comfort zone is. I am excited for Bo and I know our team is, too. He has earned the right to lead us out there and we will see what happens.”

Will the offense be conservative…“I don’t think going against one of the top teams in the country you can just be conservative. I think there is a fine line to try to put Bo Nix in comfortable situations. We are going to have to be balanced to try and win against one of the top teams in the country.”

On D.J. Williams…“D.J. had an excellent spring, then he had a shoulder issue and he is slowly getting back, but he is a natural runner. He has great balance and can break tackles, too. He has really caught Coach Williams’ eye.”

Balancing an opponent’s existing personnel vs. what a new coordinator might do…“That’s a challenge. You look back and he’d been there awhile and they did a lot of different things so you could tell. They were so well coached and they knew their answers. He’s only been there a short period of time and you have to predict. You have to predict exactly what they are going to do. Like I said, first games are so much about making adjustments and probably the biggest challenge is having answers. You’ve got to have your answers already figured out before you get there. And if you get this, you do this. That’s the biggest question and usually by the end of the first quarter things kind of settle down and you have an idea of what you’ll get the rest of the game.”

Is there a specific plan for Joey Gatewood…“There could be. Each game will probably be different. Of course Joey is our backup quarterback, one play away from playing, but he’s an electric type of player, and there’s no doubt. Each game we’ll have different plans.”

Brodarious Hamm is listed at right tackle… “Brodarious feels more comfortable and he looks more comfortable out there. You can tell every practice he is out there he is more comfortable. I think that was a really good personnel move and that will really help for the future.”

Will Kevin Steele be in the press box or on the sideline…“He will be on the sideline. I will be excited about that and I think that will be good in a lot of different ways. Of course, you know when I was going against him and he was at Clemson and I was a coordinator here, he was doing a super job with his communication checks and everything that goes with it, so I think that is going to be a real good move. (Marcus) Woodson will be in the press box.

Whose decision was the move…“It was kind of both. I think it is really good both ways. I really like him down there and he likes being down there, and at practice that is where everyone is at, so I think it is really good moving forward.”

Does that put pressure on Woodson being the eye in the sky…“Yeah, but you usually have a good idea. Kevin has been on the field before calling it and once you’ve been on the field calling it, you’ve got a pretty good eye for what you need anyway. You just get the information you need and information is very specific. He’s very good at it, too, and he’s been up there last year so I don’t think it will be any issue at all as far as gathering information.”

How important is getting consistent pressure on Herbert…“I think that is going to be a huge key. He can make all the throws and he’s got really good receivers to throw to, so you’ve got to make him uncomfortable. I think that is going to be a big key. Like I said really in the opening -- the line of scrimmage -- you know we need to win the line of scrimmage. That’s really where it starts for us and really where it starts for Auburn football and so that’s going to be a big key.”

What have you seen from their running back C.J. Verdell…“There is no doubt that he’s got speed and is a one-play drive type running back. You know he can take it to the house for big plays. We know the other freshman running back, too, or sophomore running back -- last year he was a freshman -- is very talented too. So they’ve got two running backs that we think are very good.”

Memories from playing Oregon in the 2011 BCS championship… “You know, sometimes in the off-season you reflect back on certain things, but that was a while ago. Of course great memories -- that was a great game – but they’re different now and we’re a little different now. They are one of the top programs and that’s warranted especially with their experience coming back. It will be a really good test. We are going to find out where we are after the very first game. So that’s the exciting thing for us -- that we know that we are going to get their best and they are going to get our best and we will see what happens.”

On Noah Igbinoghene and Shaun Shivers at kick returner…“Both of them are capable of taking it to the house. Noah has been consistent the whole time he’s been here. Shaun got some reps last year and both of them can really run.”

On Christian Tutt at punt returner…“You could see him and Javaris Davis there. We narrowed it down to those two and they have earned it. Like I said last week, that was really a big question mark. You could see either one back there. We have confidence in the two of them.”

On being born in Texas and growing up a Cowboys fan…“I’ve never coached a game out there so it’s pretty neat. I still have a lot of friends and family in that area, so that’s always special. I grew up a big Dallas Cowboys fan back in the day so that will be pretty neat.”

Will he wear a Tom Landry hat…“No, no I’m not going to wear a Coach Landry hat. I’m just going to wear my visor and be

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