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Defense, familiar faces: Gus Malzahn kicks off Tiger Trek
May 5, 2016

Gus Malzahn has a smile as he signs autographs at the West Georgia Auburn Club
Gus Malzahn has a smile as he signs autographs at the West Georgia Auburn Club

By Charles Goldberg

LaGRANGE, Ga.  Gus Malzahn is known for his powerhouse offenses. He's looking to add defense as a calling card, too.

Auburn's football coach says he'll make defense one of his top priorities going forward, that he'll concentrate on his head coaching duties rather than act as the program's CEO and that he and his staff are "extremely motivated."

Malzahn received a standing ovation before he started and when he finished updating his program at the West Georgia Auburn Club in LaGrange on Wednesday night, the first stop on his annual Tiger Trek tour of loyalists around the South and beyond.

Malzahn talked of surrounding himself with people who know Auburn the best, such as Kodi Burns, Travaris Robinson, Jonathan Wallace and Craig Stevens, former Auburn players who have new positons on his staff. "We're going to take care of our own." He said he felt comfortable with new offensive line coach Herb Hand, once his "right-had man" at Tulsa.

He talked quarterbacks, of course. "I'm not ready to tell you who our starting quarterback will be, but I will tell you I feel good about all three" of John Franklin III, Jeremy Johnson and Sean White.

And he talked defense.

"My No. 1 goal, is to get our defense to play Top 10 defense. It's not offense. It's not 'this or that.' It's for us to play Top 10 defense," Malzahn said. "The way we're going to be good for a long period of time is defense, and that's just the bottom line. That's a focus in recruiting."

Malzahn said an offseason of reflection has him in a coaching frame of mind. A solid spring practice helped, too, after an uneven 2015 season.

"For the first time in my career I tried to be a CEO instead of a football coach. I'm a football coach. That's what got me here. So that's was one of those evaluation things that really helped me," Malzahn said. "That really helped get me back on track."

Tiger Trek schedule

Thursday: Wiregrass Regional, Dothan
Friday: Greater Houston, Houston
Monday: North Alabama Regional, Huntsville
Tuesday: Atlanta Area, Atlanta, Georgia
May 16: Gulf Coast, Mobile
July 11: Greater Birmingham

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter



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