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Gus Malzahn says defense will rebound with Will Muschamp
Jan. 1, 2015

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By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com


TAMPA, Fla They came within seconds of winning in regulation, and then saw a potential game-tying field goal in overtime clank off an upright.

Coach Gus Malzahn said the disappointment of Auburn's 34-31 loss to Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl on Thursday was the Tigers couldn't get a win for his seniors. But he said he feels good about the future, now that Will Muschamp is on board as his defensive coordinator. 

"We just hired the best defensive coach in college football. He'll get our defense going," Malzahn said. "Offensively, we've got a chance to be really good. Our goal is to win the SEC. That's the way it will be every year. But the future is very bright."


Muschamp watched the game from the press box after spending bowl practice as an observer.

Auburn's season ended with an 8-5 record when Daniel Carlson's 45-yard field goal try in overtime hit the right upright and bounded away. Before that, Auburn watched Wisconsin star and NCAA rushing leader Melvin Gordon tack on another 251 rushing yards to finish the season with 2,587 yards, missing breaking Barry Sanders' single-season record by 42 yards.


Auburn had three interceptions, but Wisconsin still had 521 yards. But Auburn was close. Three of the Tigers' losses were by 3, 11 and 3 points, and the Outback Bowl was something of a microcosm of the season.
"It went down to the end, and we just didn't make the plays at the end of the game. They did," Malzahn said.

Auburn had a chance to win in regulation, but Wisconsin tied the game at 31-31 on a 29-yard field goal by Rafael Gaglianone with seven seconds left to complete a 13-play, 64-yard drive, and then won it when Gaglianone hit a 25-yard field goal in overtime.

"We have a lot of seniors, and obviously we're disappointed we couldn't get those guys out on a positive note," Malzahn said. "They've been very important to our program, and really helped get our program turned around in the right direction.

"We have 20-plus seniors who put their hearts and soul in the program. Our goal is to win the championship every year. That's our goal. We didn't get that done. But the way the guys handled themselves, that's what I'll remember."

Wisconsin converted a fourth-down pass on its late drive in regulation after picking up bonus yards on a late hit on Gordon out of bounds. Penalties had slowed Auburn much of the season.

"It's a good thing we've hired the best defensive coordinator in college football. He'll get it corrected it," Malzahn said.
The Tigers were limited in the passing game. Leading receiver Duke Williams was suspended for breaking a team rule and big-play Sammie Coates was limited by a sore knee.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

 

 

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