Auburn Focusing On Improving Vs. Samford

Auburn's focus is squarely on getting better this week vs. Samford and not about looking ahead to the Iron Bowl.

Auburn, Ala.--The goal this week is improvement. No matter the opponent, that’s the goal this week for the Auburn Tigers as they try to snap a two-game losing skid at home against FCS opponent Samford. With mistakes plaguing the Tigers on both sides of the ball and a need to just play a complete game to build confidence heading into the Iron Bowl, junior cornerback Jonathan Jones said it all starts with the Bulldogs on Saturday night.

“It helps get our momentum back,” Jones said of the possibility of getting a win this weekend. “Even though we're playing Samford, you do the little things and get your confidence back as a team, and that's very important heading into the last two games.

“Coach said the season isn't over,” he added. “We still have two more games. We have to block that out of our minds, which is hard to do, but we have to block it out of our minds and continue on.”

Continuing on this week means answering the bell, not only from critics but also from the head coach. Several times since Saturday night’s loss at Georgia, Gus Malzahn has talked about being big boys. He’s talked about not feeling sorry for yourself and continuing to push to become a better team. That’s the goal this week and one Jones said comes from the top because of his message.

“He's just being honest with you,” Jones said. “You can take it two ways: You can take it as a challenge, or pity yourself and put your head down and give up on the rest of the season, or you can be a big boy and become a man and face the season with your head up and keep working. We just really took It as a challenge. You have to.”

Facing that challenge this week means preparing to play a complete football game and not worrying about getting young players more experience. With mistakes on offense, defense and special teams, Malzahn said the goal is to get a win and if they can build a lead and get some young guys in the game that would make the day even better.

"Right now we want to play our best and get our edge back and if that opportunity presents itself we'll be ready,” Malzahn said. “We're planning on getting our edge and playing better and trying to improve in all three areas. If the opportunity presents itself it would be great to get some young guys to play."

Duke Ready To Go?

Injured and out the last two weeks, junior wide receiver Duke Williams is an important part of Auburn’s passing game. While he’s still not ready to turn it loose full speed, Malzahn said the junior was back at Wednesday’s practice, but it’s still very questionable about his return this week with Alabama coming up to end the regular season.

“He dressed out,” Malzahn said. “We’ll see (about his availability). It’s day-to-day. All those things come into play as a coach. Anytime they get on the practice field and they are practicing that’s a good thing.”

Carl Lawson Update

Auburn’s lack of a pass rush has been a problem all season long as the Tigers enter the game with only 17 sacks as a team. Without a consistent push off the edge it has allowed opponents to double-team Montravius Adams in the middle, making it tough to get any pressure.

All season long the hopes were that Lawson would be able to get back at some point this season to help out the defense. Now with just two regular season games remaining plus a bowl game, Malzahn said the sophomore is putting the work in, but that’s as far as he would go updating his status.

“He’s working hard,” Malzahn said. “Things are coming along very good. He’s committed to getting back on the field and being 100 percent.

“Carl was a freshman all-american and one of the best in the country. That was a big blow. Still, we just need other guys to step up and give us a little bit of a rush.”


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