Clint Moseley, who took over at quarterback in the third quarter of Auburn's 17-6 victory over Florida on Saturday night, stayed after practice with his receivers to get some additional work on the timing of pass patterns.
"At halftime we were really needing him to give us a spark," Malzahn said of Moseley. The Auburn coaches liked what they saw enough to elevate the redshirt sophomore to number one on the depth chart ahead of junior Barrett Trotter.
"We had been struggling with passing yards down the field and he made a couple of plays that really helped us," Malzahn said of Moseley. "We just really feel at this point he has earned a chance to have a spot to start and lead the offense."
Malzahn pointed out as the No. 2 quarterback that Moseley had been getting about 30 percent of the practice reps. That changed on Tuesday night. "He got a heavy amount of the reps, which he needed, especially with the new wrinkles or anything as far as our game plan is concerned," the coach noted.
The offensive coordinator said that changing quarterbacks will likely have an effect on how he calls plays during games. "Anytime you have another quarterback, as a play-caller you think a little bit different because each quarterback has his own set of strengths. Him and Barrett are similar, but he does have a few things that are unique to him.
"Clint has that knack to do things once things break down," Malzahn said. "You saw a little bit of that Saturday when things broke down. He has a little bit of the gun-slinger in him. The bottom line is we felt like he deserved a chance to lead our offense and see if he can take this offense a little higher."
Malzahn said that Trotter is handling his demotion well. "Barrett is a champion, Barrett is a great competitor. The unfortunate thing for him, all of this is not his fault. We have got other issues around him that needed to be cleaned up, shored up.
Barrett Trotter is shown in action vs. South Carolina.
"If you ask him I know he would like to have some of the things back," Malzahn said. "He has provided very good leadership for us. He is a very tough-minded young man and he is a team man."
After taking the team took the day off from practice on Monday as usual, Malzahn said he liked what he saw as the Tigers moved preparations for Saturday's game at LSU into high gear. "We had a good, solid day of practice," he said. "It was physical at times. We just tried to focus on the fundamentals, the little things. We really focused on the mistakes we made on Saturday so we can progress from here on out."
Commenting on LSU's defense, Malzahn said, "They are very talented, they are very quick. They have got speed, but they also have quickness. Some defenses have one or the other, but they have got both. Their coordinator (John Chavis) is one of the best in the business and he has got the pieces to the puzzle right now. They make you earn it. They really are aggressive."
Malzahn said Auburn's challenge this week is to become more effective throwing the football down the field to prevent the LSU defense from putting seven, eight and nine players on the line of scrimmage to stop AU's running attack.
"Jared has been here for five years and he has put in his time," said Slade, who noted it is disappointing to get the starting assignment under these circumstances. "Knowing he was a hard worker, I looked up to him, I look up to all of the seniors. Seeing him go down is just tough for me."
Cooper, an honor student, is considered one of the team's smartest players for a variety of reasons. One of those is because the senior knows how to play any of the five offensive line positions. Slade, who started the opener at tackle, said he can handle all of the offensive line spots except center. This freshman's focus right now is left guard.
"I just have to fill in his spot, take his place and finish what he wants me to finish," Slade said. "I have got to get better at it."
The young lineman said that having Cooper at practice to help him with his assignments is a plus. "Knowing that Coop is still going to be out there teaching me and stuff, he can really help me out a lot."
Slade said he has been impressed with what he has seen on video when studying the LSU defense. "Their front is good, their backs are good--everything is good about them," he said. "We have just got to be ready on Saturday to do our jobs."
Last year Slade traveled to every game on the road and was available to be used at guard or tackle during Auburn's 14-0 season if needed, but the Tigers stayed healthy up front allowing the former Moody High standout to be redshirted.
This season his Tigers are 5-2 going into Saturday's 2:30 p.m. CDT kickoff vs. LSU in Baton Rouge, where Auburn has not won a football game since 1999. The visitors face the challenge of playing the No. 1 ranked team in the country, an opponent with a strong defense.
For a third week in a row the LSU defense will be trying to make life miserable for quarterbacks making their first starts of the season. In Auburn's case Clint Moseley has been announced as the starting QB. He replaced Barrett Trotter in the lineup after halftime in Auburn's 17-3 victory over Florida on Saturday night.
Asked about the team's confidence level in Moseley to lead the offense, Slade said, "We have got to get better as a team no matter who is back there, no matter who is going to be our quarterback. We have got to be ready to play. We are confident in everybody we put on the field."
Slade said his confidence extends to the wide receivers, who have not been particularly productive this season. "They are going to put eight in the box to stop the run, but I am confident our wide receivers can catching anything. They are going to try to stop the run, but we are going to keep running it and still keep gaining yards."
In other news and notes:
*Running back Tre Mason said the Tigers had a good practice on Tuesday night and noted he was excited that he was back to full speed after missing Saturday's game with a hamstring problem.
Freshman Tre Mason added a spark to the offense vs. Arkansas, but did not play last week vs. Florida.
*Auburn's defense allowed 534.3 yards per contest in its first three games, but the Tigers have given up an average of 307 yards since then. That has improved the Tigers from 12th to 10th in the SEC in total defense allowing 404.4 yards per contest.
*Helping Auburn's defensive numbers was an outstanding performance against Florida. The Gators finished their game at Jordan-Hare Stadium with 194 yards, the lowest total for a Florida team since gaining 194 vs. Tennessee in 1990, a stretch of 268 games.
*The defensive front four has accounted for 29 of Auburn's 44 tackles for lost yardage this year. Sophomore end Corey Lemonier leads the team in tackles for losses with 10. Lemonier also tops the Tigers and all SEC players with six quarterback sacks.
*Saturday's game from Tiger Stadium will be televised nationally by CBS with Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and Tracy Wolfson calling the action.
*Under Gene Chizik the Tigers have been very good in close games, but the trend for Saturday's game doesn't look good for Auburn if it is close going into the final period. LSU has outscored opponents by 54 points in the fourth quarter this year, which is the best of any team in the SEC. In contrast, Auburn is minus four being outscored 42-38 in the final quarter going into game eight. Kentucky is at the bottom of the SEC in fourth quarter scoring differential at minus 14.
*LSU coach Les Miles has had success against Auburn, posting a 4-2 mark vs. the Tigers. Auburn's Gene Chizik is 1-1 vs. LSU and 27-7 at Auburn. Miles has a 69-17 record as head coach in Baton Rouge.
*LSU's defense has given up 31 points in its first four SEC games, the best for the Bayou Bengals since the 1985 season when LSU allowed just 27 points in its opening four league contests.
*Auburn trails 23-20-1 in the all-time series vs. LSU, but has a 10-9 advantage since the teams began playing annually when the SEC was split into divisions in 1992.