Auburn, Ala.--Heading into the 2015 season the Auburn footballprogram under Coach Gus Malzahn looked to be trending upward with many thinking the Tigers were on track for a shot at the national championship. However, things didn’t turn out that way as it took a win over Memphis in the Birmingham Bowl for Auburn to finish with a winning record.
Now noting he is more focused than ever to right the ship and get the Tigers back in the hunt for the SEC Championship, Malzahn said it starts with him and his job as the head coach.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to be a head coach in our league and at my core I’m a football coach,” Malzahn said. “That’s what I do best. Sometimes you can get distracted with other things and I think the easiest way to answer that is I’m not going to be distracted by other things when the season gets here. I’m going to coach football.”
For Malzahn that means getting back to his roots on offense. You could see that this spring as he spent a great deal of time coaching every position on that side of the ball, paying special attention to the quarterbacks. Spreading himself thin as more of an overseer the last two years, Malzahn said it’s time to get back to what he does best.
“Being a head coach at this level there are numerous things,” Malzahn said of the distractions that can have an impact. “I’m going to be a football coach. As a coach at a big place you learn. Obviously, that was a learning experience.
“Obviously, last year wasn’t up to our standards and you evaluate things as a head coach. You try to not make the same mistakes twice and we’re not going to do that and I’m not doing to do that, and, we’re going to be better next year.”
Auburn got a head start on that improvement in spring practice with the addition of Kevin Steele, Travis Williams and Wesley McGriff on the defensive side of the ball helping that unit continue to take steps forward. With new coaches Herb Hand and Kodi Burns on offense things have a different look on that side of the ball as well. Malzahn pointed out while there is more work to do he likes the progress his team made as they head into the summer.
“I feel very good after spring as far as our attitude and our kids’ approach to the game,” he said. “Our defense, they improved a lot and they were having fun playing the game. There was a lot of carryover from last year and we finished pretty strong on the defensive side of the football. We have some depth and I think that’s important.
“Offensively, we have a few new coaches and our kids really responded well to them. I think we’re in a good spot right now, knowing what we have and knowing what we need to work on. Offensively, there are going to be some young guys that come in and make an impact. I’m really looking forward to it and I really like our kids’ attitude. I really like our staff’s attitude, too. We’re all on the same page and moving in the right direction, the same direction, and it’s a lot of fun.”