Quoting Gus Malzahn: Texas A&M Week

Quoting Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn heading into the Texas A&M game.

Opening Statement…“Obviously the games get bigger this time each week every year. This will be our last SEC home game for our seniors, so it is a very important game for those guys. We are playing a team that was ranked in the Top 10 about a month ago. They are unbelievable on both sides of the football. Offensively they have experience up front, they have big fast receivers, very good running backs and a talented young quarterback. Defensively, they are one of the more experienced groups in our league. They have some future NFL guys back there too. We have to have a very good week of practice and we have to improve.”

Challenge of preparing defensively for the Aggies…“You just have to be prepared for everything. Everything that they have done up to this point in the season, and that goes for every game really. You have to be prepared and ready to adjust.”

On Myles Garrett… “He is an extremely talented pass rusher. He is long, fast and has a very good get-off. When he knows it’s a pass, he can wreak havoc. He is very talented. On film, he is very talented.”

Status of Jermaine Whitehead…“(Not playing on defense) is just part of the punishment. He came back and has been on special teams. He is working on being the best special teams guy that he can be.”

Is the receiver group hitting its stride…“Sammie (Coates) is right at 100% probably for the first time since early in the season. So that helped. We spread the ball around. All of our guys made some plays in the passing game. When you can do that, that definitely helps open each other up.”

The respect Cameron Artis-Payne receives…“I don’t get to listen to all the talk shows, but he is a workhorse guy. He’s one of the top running backs in our league. I think he’s proved that time and time again. He’s tough and very reliable. He’s a very good pass protector. He’s unselfish and he does his job.”

Should any Auburn players be receiving Heisman consideration…“I think our quarterback is one of the better offensive players in college football. He’s proved that time and time again. I’d say that if you compare what he does to some other guys that they talk about, he definitely needs to be in the mix.”

How the team is handling the difficulty of the schedule…“We had a huge win on Saturday against one of the top teams on their home field. We’ve got another big one now. We still have four games left and we are focused on this game. We know we are going to get their best and our guys understand that. We’ve got to figure out how to get better in all three phases, not just this week, but every week.”

Achieving his preferred pace on offense…“I think we’ve improved as far as our pace and our execution. Anybody in the county can go fast, but can you go fast and execute the play properly? I know we are improved. We’re still working and we still need to improve, but that’s the name of the game.”

Comparing this year to last year…“I think what we can take from last season is when the game is on the line, our guys believe they are going to win the game. They’ve shown time and time again that they can win in different ways. It can be the offense, defense or special teams. Our guys really have that belief, and that is a confidence factor for later in the year if it’s a close game.”

On linebacker play…“I think any time they’ve had experience and have played in the same system, they’re going to improve. At the same time, that group needs to improve, just like the rest of the group needs to improve. But I would say we are more consistent in the linebacker position than we were last year.”

On Cassanova McKinzy…“I think that he has done some good things. He and Kris (Frost) both have both responded well to moving those positions. I think that they are getting more comfortable each game.”

On the deep snapping situation…“Ike (Powell) did a wonderful job in a very tough spot, especially making that snap in the last minute of the game when they knew that they had to come after it. That was a big-time play, so that gives us great confidence in him moving forward. We’ve got two guys that we feel very good about in that position. (Will Forrest Hill be available this week) We’ll see. He’s day-to-day at this point, but we are very confident. Regardless, he will return.”

On play calling…“I enjoy it. We have our system that we have been doing the same thing for a long time, and Rhett (Lashlee) deserves a lot of the credit for our success. We feel very comfortable the way that we do it. I’m used to calling plays. I don’t know if it makes it harder or not. That’s what I enjoy doing.”

On Nick Marshall’s focus after the bye week…“Once he focuses on one thing to try to improve, he always improves. I think there are a lot of areas that he’s improved from last year to this year, and within this year.”

Confidence in close games…“Our coaching staff and our players are extremely close and any time you have a group and you experience something, especially success, you believe next time that you are going to do it, and you do it together. The bottom line is football players have to make plays when the game is on the line to win the game because close games always come down to one or two or three plays. As a coach you can put them into a position, but they have to make the play. That is extremely hard to do. We have had different guys do that time and time again. It reinforces that belief that if it is a close game, we are going to win it.”

On Cameron Artis-Payne’s performance late in the game…“It gives me great confidence. That is not easy to do. You have got to be one mentally and physically tough individual to respond in a situation like that, when you may not be your best. Tre Mason was nothing but a winner and Cameron has been nothing but a winner. It gives you great confidence as a coach.”

Improvement of the offensive line…“I think we’re getting a little rhythm. Like we’ve said before, each week when you get used to communicating with a guy and you’ve seen the different looks time and time again and you get confidence that if I’m going to step this way he’s going to step with me, you just get used to working with each other. Our guys have done that and I really feel like they’ve improved the last couple of weeks. That’s been a big factor in our success running the football.”

On Braden Smith…“He’s doing a good job. Every time you put him in there, he feels more comfortable. He’s extremely talented, which we’ve said before, but there’s nothing like going out there and having experience, because in practice, you put a guy in a certain spot and he usually stays there. In a game, you don’t know what you’re going to get; they could move on you and all that. It’s just a matter of him feeling more comfortable and getting used to more looks, but he’s going to be an outstanding player.”

Status of Roc Thomas…“He practiced the other night and he’ll practice again today. We expect him to play, but we’ll see how he is later in the week.”

On Nick Marshall not getting enough credit…“Like I said just a minute ago, he’s one of the best offensive players in college football, so whatever that means. He’s been leading our offense for two years and we’ve been pretty solid on offense and a lot of it has to do with him.”

On the offense starting to click…“We did some good things against a very good defense on the road. I feel like we’re improving. We’re getting a few more yards on the perimeter, which is opening up things in the middle. We’re hitting some deep balls down the field, which is opening the run game up. It all works together, and I feel like we’re improving. I’m not ready to say compared to last year towards the end, but the plan will be if we can keep improving like we have, then we’ll have a chance to be where we were last year at the end.”

On Artis-Payne’s touchdown numbers…“He’s doing everything we want him to do. There’s nothing negative to that.”

On Marshall extending plays…“Our quarterback is probably the best in the country at extending plays. When things break down, he still can get the job done. As far as the double-move when he rolled out and took one step and threw it sixty yards in a perfect throw, there are probably not very many people in the country who can do that. He’s very good at extending plays.”

On Texas A&M’s defense…“I think they’re a very solid defense. They’ve got a whole lot of experience on that back end. They’ve got almost everybody back who played against us last year. They’ve got some very talented young guys who are getting in the mix. We think they’ve got some very good players over there.”

On his dance video from the past…“I don’t think Dancing With The Stars will ever take me. We were at Six Flags with the family and we kept walking by this lip-syncing booth. They kept messing with me and I finally had enough and did it. I kept (the tape), and when I was coaching high school football I would bring my seniors over and show it to them so they would know that I was a real person. That is how that whole thing got started.”

On doing similar things with his college seniors…“You have them over at your house a lot. College football is obviously different than high school football with the time management they have to do. You always get close to your seniors. This group is a very special group and we have a very good bond.”

On Kevin Sumlin…“He’s a very good coach. He’s been very successful doing what he does and playing fast. His track record speaks for itself.”

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