GUS MALZAHN (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Quoting Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzahn: Alabama A&M Game Week

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured from his weekly press conference.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers will close their 2016 home football schedule with a 6:30 p.m. contest vs. the Alabama A&M Bulldogs. Coach Gus Malzahn's comments from his Tuesday press conference are featured:

“It was a very tough loss on Saturday, especially against one of our rivals. Our defense played outstanding and played good enough to win, holding Georgia to six points. The fact that we threw the pick-six made it that much tougher.

 

“We got pretty beat up in the game and there are a couple of updates on injuries. Marcus Davis will be out for the regular season with a shoulder injury. That is a tough blow, losing one of our leaders and our punt returner.

"Chandler Cox had a leg injury. He will be out this week, but we are hoping to have him back for the Iron Bowl. Kamryn Pettway will not play again this week. We also hope to have him back for the Iron Bowl.

"Stanton Truitt injured his ankle early in the game. He tried to keep fighting through, but couldn’t go in the second half; it swelled up pretty good. He will be out this week and we hope to have him back for the Iron Bowl.

"Josh Shockley will be out for the regular season with a shoulder injury. He has been playing very well on special teams. Sean White reinjured his shoulder. That will be a day-to-day, week-to-week decision. I’m not ready to make a call on him, but we will play him when he is healthy. We will see how that goes this week and I will give an update later in the week on that.

 

“It’s Senior Day this week. This will be our last home game for our seniors. We have an excellent group. I have been talking about their leadership and the character that they have and I am really excited for those guys in their last home game. We are looking for win number eight on the season to take those guys out on a positive note.”

 

On the reason to play Sean White this week:

“Like I said, we will play him when he’s healthy.”

 

Who is the backup quarterback?

“John Franklin has been taking all of the number two reps and Jeremy has taken reps the last couple of weeks. I am not ready to make a decision on that. Later in the week, I will let everyone know.”

 

Will Marcus Davis return for the bowl game?

 “That’s what we’re hoping. He’s one of our leaders. He’s a super human being. He has great character. He’s a hard worker. That’s a big blow.”

 

Is Steven Roberts the punt returner now?

“Right, Steven Roberts will be the punt returner. Ryan Davis will also be in that mix.”

 

On the plan at running back:

“We obviously have Kerryon and Kam Martin. Malik Miller is going to practice this week. Rudy Ford has gotten reps during the season. We’ll see how all of that goes. I’ll probably have a better idea of our plans for running back towards the end of the week.”

 

Could Kerryon Johnson sit out this week?

“Yeah, but at the same time we need to win this game. I’m not quite ready to make a call right now.”

 

Why did Sean White stay in the Georgia game?

“I think Rhett (Lashlee) said it best. He got us here. He had an excellent year. Obviously, we knew he wasn’t 100 percent, but it was a close game. He wanted to be in there and I know his teammates wanted him to be in there. Obviously, we couldn’t find a way to score in that second half, but he’s a tough guy. He’s one of our leaders.”

 

Will any defensive players sit out this week?

 “I’m not ready to say that yet either. We’re healthier on that side of the ball right now.”

 

What is the status of freshman wide receiver Nate Craig?

 “He had a little bit of a quad injury last week, but he’s a guy that’ll be on the field more this week.”

 

On his confidence in Johnathan “Rudy” Ford if he plays running back:

“I’ll probably answer that question better later in the week, too. He hasn’t taken a whole lot of snaps at running back.”

 

Could KamrynPettway miss the Iron Bowl?

 “I’m not ready to say that yet. We’re hopeful.”

 

Who backed up Marcus Davis?

“Marcus played a lot of different positions. He was really a security blanket. He played all three of the receiver positions during the season. Jason Smith played that position a lot last year. He obviously has experience. The biggest thing with (Marcus) is he’s a security blanket. He’s always great at blocking. He’s great without the ball. Losing his leadership is really the biggest issue that we have.”

 

Will Kerryon Johnson remain as a kick returner even though he is not full speed with his ankle injury?

“With a big game like the other night, we wanted to put him back there on that last kickoff return. He’s one of our best kickoff returners. Strategically, moving forward, we’ll have a plan. That’s the reason you saw him back there at the end of the game.”

 

Would you would run the ball more if he could play the Georgia game again?

When you don’t score points in the second half, you would do a lot of things differently. There were a couple of opportunities where we could’ve run the football, but we chose to throw it. We didn’t execute it, regardless. It doesn’t matter. We didn’t get it done. I think any time you go through a situation like that, you’d like to have a couple of things back.”

 

Did you ask Sean White if he was hurt during the game?

“No. We talked to him at halftime. He had that look in his eye that he wanted to play. We never had that conversation.”

 

Should you have asked White about his situation during the game?

“I would have liked to have known if he was worse. It would’ve been good to know. Like he said the other night, he’ll communicate better moving forward. He’s a tough guy. He’s trying to win a game. It was a one-score game. He felt like he could do it or he would’ve said so.”

 

On the team’s confidence in Sean White:

“It’s very important. It’s probably the most important thing. The confidence and trust that the team has in a guy is very important. He has answered the bell before. The week before he wasn’t 100 percent, but he answered the bell. He was trying to fight. We just didn’t get it done around him. We had a couple of drops, too -- it wasn’t just him.”

 

On communication with White about injuries moving forward:

“I think there is always a learning curve between coaches and players with experience and going through different things and all that. I think definitely moving forward, the conversation will be different.”

 

Did you see that White was injured during the game?

“I think after looking back, in the third quarter we had two drops and one drop in the fourth quarter, he made a phenomenal throw on the back shoulder going down their sideline on the wheel route. I don’t think that’s the whole answer right there. Obviously, he said that he banged it up and he wasn’t 100 percent, but he also made some plays right there. In the last play of the game, it could have been caught. That’s probably the best way to answer that.”

 

On pass protection during the Georgia game:

“On the first third down, they had a free hitter there on a hot route. A couple of other times they got us so we have to do a good job these next two games to protect our quarterback.”

 

On the punt play where an Auburn player was wide:

“We just got a guy on the field late. We had a couple of injuries right there and we had a guy that got on the field late. We weren’t trying to run or throw it to him or anything like that.”

 

On Carl Lawson closing in on the season sack record:

“Carl has been one of our top players and one of the best players in college football. He has stayed healthy this year and has been a big-time impact player. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he accomplishes that.”

 

Comparing Lawson with former Tiger defensive lineman Nick Fairley: 

“Well, they are both impact players. The offense has to be aware of where they are at. They can change a game. He has done that for us a couple of times this year with huge sacks, especially in the fourth quarter of games that could go either way.”

 

Will John Franklin run the whole offensive package if he plays this week?

 “I think it’s important. I think it’s important for him and whoever that they can run the whole offense.”

 

On QB Jeremy Johnson’s career:

 “Obviously, it’s been tough the last two years on him. I think everybody knows that. But he’s handled himself well. He’s been there for his teammates and just trying to help us win any way he can.”

 

What will determine who starts at quarterback this week:

 “We’ll go out to practice today and tomorrow and we’ll see the health of Sean first. I think that’s where it starts. Then you go to that next step.”

 

Does you wish he had redshirted Jeremy Johnson?

“No, we never had a conversation about him wanting to redshirt or anything like that. I don’t know where that came from. It may have come from you.”

 

On running back Kam Martin:

 “Kam’s a great person. He’s a great competitor and he’s a freshman, he’s still learning. (He) hasn’t played a whole lot and he was put in a tough situation, but Kam’s going to be a great player for us. There’s no doubt in my mind. We have confidence in him, and he’s going to make a whole lot of plays to help us win games in the future.”

 

Who will replace Cox at fullback/H-back this week:

 “We’ve got Jalen Harris, Spencer Nigh, Keenan Sweeney -- all three of those guys have had reps at that H-back position.”

 

Does you have confidence in Jeremy Johnson if he plays Saturday?

 “I’m confident in whoever we put out there that they can get it done, and that’s 100 percent the truth.”

 

When did you talk with freshman QB Woody Barrett about redshirting:

 “I think it was pretty early. You’ve got to keep in mind, he got here at the very first of fall camp. He wasn’t here in the summer. Then he had an ankle injury that held him out for about three weeks to a month. He’s going to be a really good player for us. But it was somewhere along after the injury coming back.”


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