"Basics" The Theme for Bye Week Practices

Coach Gus Malzahn talks about his Auburn football team as the Tigers look to bounce back from their first loss.

Auburn, Ala.--Gus Malzahn said his Auburn Tigers are using their midseason bye week to focus on themselves so they can become a better football team when they return to action next week vs. South Carolina.

“This week we are going to worry about us,” Auburn’s head coach said on Monday. “It is back to the basics--the little things--just making sure we are better at what we do. We are not so much worried about a scheme like you have to do for your week-to-week preparations.”

The Tigers, who are 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC, are ranked sixth nationally this week after suffering their first loss of the season last Saturday at Mississippi State.

“I feel like we will be better for that after the off week,” Malzahn said. “We want to get better at what we do, making sure the young guys, not just the freshmen, have a better grasp of our base foundation offense, defense and special teams.”

Despite the loss to the Bulldogs the coach said he believes that the 2014 edition of the Tigers is a good team, but still has work to do. “I still really like this team,” Malzahn said.

The coach added, “There were some fundamental breakdowns, but overall I would say we are quite a bit ahead of our fundamentals as a group than where were last year.”

The Tigers cancelled their Sunday practice and used that time to meet with their position coaches to go over video from the Mississippi State game. The plan is to practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

“You find out your true character in adverse times,” Malzahn said. “It is to have great character when you are winning and everything, but our guys they were very respectful. They used great sportsmanship. They went across the field, they shook their hand, told them congratulations, good luck the rest of the way and they came in the locker room. We didn’t have anybody running in the locker room throwing their helmet down.”

While noting that his players were very disappointed by the loss in Starkville, Malzahn said he is expecting his team to grow from the setback. “The special teams, when they face adversity, they come together even closer, and that is what we are going to do,” he predicted.

Malzahn pointed out that after grading video of the game the coaches didn’t fault their team’s effort. “We knew they were going to play hard,” he said. “We just made too many mistakes. There were some times in the game where we needed to make a play and we couldn’t make the play to kind of turn things.

“Our whole goal when we got behind was ‘hey, let’s get it close in the fourth quarter and our guys will find a way to win.’ We never could get it within that touchdown range to make it close.”

Ricardo Louis fumbled the football on this kickoff return play. It was Auburn's fourth turnover of the game vs. Mississippi State.

Auburn’s game seven opponent, South Carolina, was off last week and will play at home this Saturday vs. Furman. The Gamecocks are 2-3 overall.

“I definitely expect us to rebound in a positive way,” Malzahn said. “It is really a good time for an off week. We are little banged up and all of that, but really, from a coaches standpoint, it gives us a whole week to focus on us.

“Our coordinators are really evaluating everything, strengths, weaknesses, and really getting a great plan together for the next six games to finish this thing strong because we have got our hands full with the opponents we are going to play. We play some of the best teams in America--a lot of them on the road.”

The Tigers must place road games against three Top 10 teams--No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 7 Alabama and No. 10 Georgia.

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