Malzahn Talks Georgia

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn previews upcoming opponent Georgia on Tuesday.

Opening Statement…“Obviously, we have a huge game coming up this week on the road, a very good and talented team that we are facing. They are the No. 1 scoring offense in our league. Defensively, they are one of the top (teams). They are very talented. Their defensive coordinator is the same defensive coordinator that we faced in the national championship game against Florida State. We are very familiar with each other. This will be a big challenge for our guys. This is a big game.”

Did C.J. Uzomah and Melvin Ray fill in for D’haquille Williams…“It was a combination of both of them that did that. I thought they played very well, especially given the circumstances of not getting a lot of practice reps during the week.”

Status of Williams…“He is week to week right now, but we will see how he progresses. I’m not ready to say (whether he will play against Georgia), but it is probably unlikely.”

How does the team move on from the loss to Texas A&M…“The easiest way is to say you have a big game coming up and you have to put it behind you. Secondly, we have a lot of veteran guys and a lot of seniors that have been through a lot of good and a lot of bad. It is their leadership that makes it easier to put that loss behind you. We are playing a huge game this week against a very talented team, so that will be our challenge this week. I feel certain that our team will handle that the right way.”

How do coaches move on from a loss…“As a coach you have to take the losses very hard. Obviously, Saturday night was not a great feeling, but you have to put it behind you and move on. Our staff has done that. We need to do everything we can to get our guys prepared for this week.”

On Georgia’s run defense…“They have a lot of speed, a lot of athleticism, their linebackers are two of the most experienced guys in our league, and they’re very long up front.”

On slow starts…“Not getting off to a good start has been the thing that we’ve got to fix. Once we get into the game, especially in the second half, our guys are playing better. They’re settling down, but we’ve got to get off to a better start defensively earlier in the game.”

How do you get a better start…“You do everything you can in practice. That’s how you prepare and, defensively, that’s going to be our goal, to get off to a better start.”

Is he more involved with the defense…“As a head coach, it’s my job to get the most out of all three phases. I’m confident in the leadership we have, but at the same time, as a head coach, you try your best to give your team the best chance of being successful. That’s my job.”

On poor tackling and miscommunication…“We’re going to get better at it. The tackling is being in the right position in the first place. About the miscommunication and taking the right angles and all that, we’ve got some veteran guys and I feel like we’ll finish strong in that area.”

Any concern with miscommunication late in the season…“Any time you have miscommunications in any area this late in the season, that’s not good. As coaches, we’ve got to figure out a way to solve that in all three areas.”

Did he speak with Steve Shaw this week…“Like I said earlier, we have conversations every week on plays that happened during the games and all that.”

On the pass rush…“A big factor on our defense is being able to put pressure on the quarterback with just four guys. At times we’ve not gotten that done, so what we’ve got to do is figure out ways to disrupt things and put pressure on the quarterback.”

Is he pleased with recent recruiting on defense…“I think we’ve done a solid job. We’ve got some very good players. I think recruiting is going very well.”

Challenges of the Georgia running game…“First of all, they’ve got two freshman running backs that are extremely talented, and you can definitely see that they’ve been effective. They have a lot of good experience this year. Of course when you add (Todd) Gurley in, he’s one of the better individual players at any position. He’s a very good player. Their quarterback is very efficient. He doesn’t turn the ball over and runs the offense very well. I think they’ve got some receivers that can hurt you too if they get in one-on-one situations.”

On receivers being double-covered in Williams’ absence…“Here’s the good thing: we have all of our receivers back from last year. The addition of Duke was really good, but our guys are used to operating. We’ve got our receiver coach, our quarterback coach, and our quarterback back, so we’re in solid shape as far as being without Duke. We’ve got a lot of confidence in our receivers, and it’s not just Sammie. We’ve got some other guys that have some big game experience that make big plays in big games.”

Are Cameron Artis-Payne and Gurley the best running backs in the SEC…“I really don’t get into all of that, other than the fact that I know that Gurley is a very good player, and I know that Cameron is a very good player. They are two of the best in our league statistically.”

Do you talk about the end of last year’s game…“No. That’s last year, and we’re concentrating on this year.”

On Artis-Payne’s fourth-quarter rushes vs. Texas A&M…“I think we moved the ball pretty well in the fourth quarter. I think overall that’s just what you have to be thinking. Whether it’s a quarterback, throwing, or running, that’s our offense. We try to take what the defense gives us. There wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it. We just fumbled the football, which was the big thing. We didn’t have a problem moving the football.”

On Corey Grant’s role…“Corey is definitely a very good player for us. He does a lot of different things for us even though he may not get the carries he had earlier. He’s helped us in some different ways, as far as protection, check downs and doing some other things for us.” Grant as a lead blocker…“He does a good job with that. He’s a very smart guy, a veteran guy who understands our offense very well. He gives us some flexibility to utilize his skills.”

On Nick Marshall’s personal motivation when playing Georgia…“Last year there was no doubt that it was definitely different for him. Any time you have that experience one time, it’s not as big of a deal the second time. He’s going to prepare like he normally would and there’s not going to be any more to it than that.”

On Quan Bray’s development at receiver…“Every year he’s been here, he’s developed more as a wide receiver. I think everybody sees now that he’s starting to make plays down the field and run very good routes. He’s strong with the ball. He’s really doing some things at the receiver position that are really helping us.”

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