Quoting Gus Malzahn: Kansas State Week

Quoting Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn heading into the Kansas State game.

Opening statement…“We’ve got a big test on the road this week, playing a Top 20 team. It’ll be a good measuring stick to see where we are as a team this year. Offensively they’re very balanced. Their quarterback is a dual-threat guy who runs the ball extremely well and can do some very unique things. What really stands out to me is they’ve only had one turnover all year. They do a really great job of protecting the football. Defensively, they’re good against the run. They’re very disciplined, very good at what they do. They make you earn it. They have a very scrappy defense that doesn’t give up a lot of big plays. That’ll be a big key. They’re also one of the best teams in college football in time of possession. Being able to control the football will be a big factor in Thursday’s game.”

Impact of Sammie Coates…“Sammie is one of our big weapons; I think everyone saw that last year. He provides a different element. We expect him to be back and ready to go. He’s really improved his all-around receiving skills and those intermediate routes we talk about. He’s an extremely good blocker. He’s a big strong guy who can block a lot of different guys and he knows the offense. He’s a veteran guy who allows us to make adjustments during the game without a problem. We feel good about him being ready to go.”

Having experienced veterans on the road…“I think it’s very important. A lot of our guys played in road games that were hostile last year and we’re hoping that will help. The difference is that this is a new team. We’ve got some new guys with us that will be experiencing a road game for the first time. From a coaching standpoint, you worry about the noise and environment, but the good news is we have our center back and we have our quarterback back. That’ll definitely help. It’ll be a good test of going on the road. That’s one of the tougher places in college football to play so we’ll see what happens.”

Will you do a stadium walk-through Wednesday…“We like to have a routine if possible, and get our guys familiar with it. We would like for them not see it for the first time on game day. It will be the first time for all the guys who will be playing a game there. We want them to be familiar with where the 25-second clocks are and all.”

Is a Thursday game an extra challenge…“The fact that we had an off-week last week really helped us because you can get in a routine. The challenge is when you play on a Thursday and the Saturday before. We have had some time to prepare. We are trying to keep everything as routine as possible. In our players’ minds, today is a Wednesday and same with our coaches, too. That’s the way we’ve been going about it.Tomorrow will be Thursday and then we travel. We just try our best to keep it as routine as possible.”

How has the scout team simulated Kansas State…“We have done some different things. We also have had our number two offense do some things with our defense. They are similar. They are very unique in the play action. They run some of the same plays we do. Hopefully, that will help.”

On Kansas State QB Jake Waters…“He is like another running back. He is very good at running the football, but he is also good at throwing. The ball comes out of his hand really quick. Especially with the ball on the perimeter, it comes out quick.”

How Reese Dismukes’ experience will help on the road…“It is very important for the center, with the noise, to be able to make calls and do the things he does. We still want to play fast. On the road that’s a bigger challenge. You’ve got the noise and everything that goes with that. When you’ve got a center that has been through the wringer, as far as the road games, that will help.”

Importance of having experienced linebackers…“We’ve got our two guys back. They played well the first two games and we’re going to have to play well again. Kansas State does so well running the football, not just quarterback runs, but regular runs too. They will be a big factor in stopping the run.”

Recruiting Nick Marshall…“You knew he was a very good quarterback in high school. He fits into what we look for in a quarterback. Those were the two main factors. I think he broke records in high school. He had a great arm and I think a lot of people recruited him as a quarterback, but he just happened to go to their in-state school.”

A non-conference Top 20 matchup…“It’s a measuring stick for your program to go on the road against a Top 20 team at their place. It’s a hostile environment and a good measuring stick of where this team is and it will be a huge test. We’ll have to play well to win.”

Has the offense performed to its potential so far…“Our expectations are high. We moved some linemen around from last year to this year. We had to replace Kozan and everything that goes with that. Execution-wise, our goal is to get better each week. Overall, I’m pleased with our first two games, but we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to be more efficient and not make the little mistakes. The great thing about offense is that you need all 11 guys to be doing the right thing for a play to work. We still have areas where we need to clean up to improve and that’s what will be our mission the rest of the year. It will be similar to last year.”

Did the off week rest Daniel Carlson’s leg…“He’s doing everything, and your leg gets sore after games when you do that much, so it was good for him. He kicked a couple times last week and we’ve been smart with his leg. It was good for him and the overall team, too.”

Jeremy Johnson’s role in road games…“He can run our complete offense. Last year it was completely different than this year. There would be certain times we’d put him in there to run specific things, but he can run our entire offense. We have a lot of confidence in him.”

Malzahn spending Saturday as a CBS analyst…“It was a little different. It was different being behind the scenes but I enjoyed it. Kirk (Sampson) came to me a month ago and saw the off time and thought it was good exposure. It was very convenient for me to do my work on the plane going there and coming back. I knew it was going to be an off-day already with our schedule.”

A weather delay in the Georgia-South Carolina game kept him on the set longer… “I was getting a little antsy there. I was watching my clock but I was able to get the work done we needed to get done.”

Was it his idea for CBS to replay the Iron Bowl during the delay…“I was okay with it, but, no, it wasn’t my idea. I was learning on the job is what I was doing.”

Not much national talk about Auburn yet…“Nobody talked about us last year; it’s fine with me. Our goal is that they’re talking about us at the end and that’s really the only thing on our mind. We don’t get caught up in predictions and this and all that. Our goal is to get better each week and our goal is to try to repeat as SEC champs, so all that other stuff we don’t get too caught up in one way or another.”

The SEC West’s toughness…“It’s the best division in college football and I don’t even think it’s close. I think people can see that now. Every week you have got to play well if you’re playing a team in the West. I think you can see that already early in the season.”

On Kansas State’s special teams…“They’re very good at special teams in all phases and we’ve worked extremely hard the last week-and-a-half on special teams. We’ve even spent a little more time than normal because they’re very good at what they do. I think that will be a big factor on Thursday.”

On offensive lulls in games…“We try our best not to have lulls. Regardless, it’s a matter of executing and scoring points. That’s not just one quarter, that’s all around.”

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