Auburn, Ala.--With an important SEC Western Division game coming up this Saturday against LSU and already with home losses to Clemson and Texas A&M, the Auburn Tigers could be feeling the pressure this week, but so far Coach Gus Malzahn said he hasn’t seen that from his team.
“We’ve put last week behind us and I think that’s half the battle right now,” Malzahn said. “We’ve had a very good week of practice with energy and great focus. They are looking forward to playing Saturday and getting back out there and redeeming themselves.”
With a chance to right the ship and get a big win this week, Malzahn said his guys have responded the right way this week and he’s expecting them to battle against LSU.
“Our attitude is great,” the coach said. “We’ve got great kids. They’re representing Auburn the right way. They are resilient. We’ve got great leadership. They flipped the page and moved on. We’re thinking about nothing but LSU. Our guys are going to play their guts out.”
Malzahn repeated on Thursday night the need to take some shots down the field in the passing game to create big plays. For Auburn’s offense that means getting young receivers like Darius Slayton, Kyle Davis, Nate Craig and even Elijah Stove more involved. The head coach said all of the young guys have really stepped up their play early this season.
“Those young guys are getting better each time they’re out there,” Malzahn said. “They just need experience. I think some of our older guys have really stepped up too and done a good job. They’re hustling, they’re doing a lot of the little things, the blocking, things that lots of times don’t get recognized. Coach (Kodi) Burns has done a good job with the group and I think in the future they will be a strength for us.”
Perhaps the top story at receiver has been senior Tony Stevens. Catching a career high eight passes a week ago, Stevens leads the team with 13 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns this year. Malzahn said he’s seen a huge step up for the veteran receiver.
“He’s one of the guys that we really felt like we needed to have him raise his level this year,” Malzahn said. “So far he’s done that. I think he’s starting to get comfortable. There’s a lot to be said for a receiver that gets comfortable, he gets confident and wants the football. The confidence from a quarterback standpoint to get the ball to them, that has a lot to do with it too.”