GUS MALZAHN (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Quoting Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzahn: Vanderbilt Postgame

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured.

Opening Statement…

Auburn, Ala.--Comments from Auburn's football coach, Gus Malzahn, are featured following his team's 23-16 win vs. Vanderbilt.

“First of all, I’m extremely proud of our team and very proud of the coaches. We faced probably about as much adversity as we faced in a win in a long time. We had some injuries and some guys weren’t able to play. We had one of our top defensive guys kicked out of the game early. We had some guys that really stepped up and did a super job. In every year that we’ve won a lot of games there has been a game like this where our guys found a way to win. You’ve got to give Vanderbilt a lot of credit. They had a week off and were obviously fresh and very good, and took advantage of some situations. They’re a good team. They’re a really good team. I’m glad to have a victory. I’m glad to get number seven. I’m really proud of our team.”

 On Sean White not playing in the first half:

“He was banged up. He was hurt and couldn’t practice, didn’t take one practice snap, so we just built our game plan around John (Franklin) and the first nine and everything that goes with that. Sean threw some in warmups and moved around. It was one of those deals where he thought he could go. At halftime, we just made the move. He was ready to go and obviously gave our offense a spark. It looked like our offense. I’m real proud of him. He showed a lot of toughness.”

 Was it disciplinary or an injury?

“No disciplinary issue at all, it was an injury.”

 

On specifics of Sean White’s injury:

“I’m not getting into all that. It’s an injury. He’s our starting quarterback and he’s playing extremely well. He’s tough. He took a beating at Ole Miss.”

 

On the extent of Kamryn Pettway’s injury:

“He pulled something obviously. He was going out and poor kid pulled something. We’re a pretty beat up team.”

 

On if he has ever had a quarterback play that much after not practicing during game week?

“Probably so. I’ve been coaching for 26 years, so I’m sure it’s happened once.”

 

On the decision to put White in to start the second half:

“It was kind of one of those deals at halftime, and I’m proud of John. I will say that was his first start against a really good team, and really you take away the fumble, and he managed the game pretty well. I’m proud of him and that will help him moving forward, to have some real game reps, to see what it feels like, the pressure, the way he responded. I thought he did a good job in the zone read, but it’s kind of one of those deals at halftime where we just felt we needed a spark. Sean said he could go. Rhett (Lashlee) talked to him and he went out there. He’s a tough guy and a great competitor.”

 

On his team's third down struggles defensively:

“That was a tough deal, there’s no doubt. We’ve got to get off the field on third downs, especially at third down and nine-plus. That was really a big part. You’ve got to give them credit. There was a couple of those throws that really good and all that. We were playing without some people, and you all know that, but we’ve got to get better on third down.”

 

On Josh Holsey coming up with interceptions in back-to-back games:

“Josh is one of our leaders and he finds a way to win. It was just one of those days. There wasn’t a whole lot that went our way. Time and time again we were facing adversity. They jumped over and blocked a field goal. We had a lot of penalties, which is very uncharacteristic of our team. We’ve been one of the more disciplined teams in college football. Every time we turned around there was something against us. That’s what makes this win so good, that our kids overcame.”

 

On the targeting call vs. DeShaun Davis:

“It’s one play. It’s getting hard to be able to coach what a good lick is. We’ve just got to keep coaching our guys and hopefully we’ll get better at it. It’s tough.”

 

On where Kamryn Pettway ranks in his 1,000 yard rushers:

“I’d like to probably answer that at the end of the season when everything is kind of out. He’s done a phenomenal job. He’s come on to the scene. A guy that played H-back last year in this league, that’s probably unheard of. He’s a force, he’s a load.”

 

Is Kerryon Johnson is fully healthy:

“He’s still not 100 percent. He’s probably somewhere around 80 percent, but KJ is a tough guy. He’s a savvy guy, too, between the tackles. The run he made for a touchdown was phenomenal. We’ve got to get him healthy.”

 

On what inspired him to run starburst (kickoff return handoff play) for the first time in college:

“We were working on it all year, and it’s a shame that we didn’t execute it. It’s been up for four weeks, but we didn’t have the right opportunity this week. We didn’t get it done and that is disappointing.”

 

On how he feels about the team now and how the team controls its own destiny after watching Mississippi State beat Texas A&M:

“Really the way we are going to look at it is that we are going to Georgia next week. We are going to take it one game at a time and we will see what happens at the end. That is our approach. We aren’t looking ahead. That has been our formula this year and we will continue to do the same thing.”

 

On playing at Georgia:

“We haven’t won much lately. We have to find a way to solve that. I really like our team. I like the way they responded at Ole Miss. The thing about this team is they are going to fight. They are going to get after it. They are going to scratch and claw. We just have to find a way.”

 

On if he thinks the team will be healthier overall going into next week:

“I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. We’re beat up.”

 

On White's shoulder injury:

“I didn’t say he has a bad shoulder, but he’s beat up. You have to take all of that into effect. You have to think about everything that a quarterback is. How healthy he is, how young your receivers are. You have to take it all into effect.”

 

On Daniel Carlson’s kicking:

“He is the best kicker in college football and it is not even close. I don’t know about that last play because that wasn’t his fault.  You don’t see that every day. He’s a great kicker.”

 

On how he said Auburn was going to change this year:

“When you do something for 26 years, that’s all you know. But after the Arkansas State game, I called Rhett and said I can’t do it anymore, and be the head coach here. I’m going to slowly turn it over and after that game I called them and said “It’s going to be yours guys.” I believe in Rhett and Herb. They have done a phenomenal job.”

 

On why the team responds to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee:

“Because he does a great job and players love him. They respect him.”

 

Was giving Lashlee the play calling duties a difficult decision:

“I wouldn’t say it is difficult. Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you just get a gut feeling and I just can’t do it this way anymore. You know that. It wasn’t hard, but yes it took a couple of weeks of getting used to. When you do something for 26 years and then you’re not doing it, it feels weird. It’s been really refreshing. It’s been really good for me personally to be there for our players more and for our coaches more. We have a great offensive staff. They are awesome. It was just the right thing to do.”

 

On T.J. Neal playing well on Saturday:

“I am proud of him because he is a grad transfer. He had not been able to play a whole lot. He has a good attitude and he got his opportunity. We are just about out of linebackers. He did a super job. Montavious Atkinson did a super job. They played a lot of snaps.”

 

On wide receiver Darius Slayton:

“Darius Slayton is starting to come into his own. He’s starting to be a real SEC receiver. He is a redshirt freshman that is playing all around good football.”

On the team's comeback:

“Our team has a lot of heart, a lot of a guts, and a lot of fight. There was more adversity today than any game I can think of. There might be some that equal in the past. There was not a whole lot going right for us, and we won.”


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