Aug 27, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- He taught it in the spring and through preseason practice in the fall. Now, Auburn's Gus Malzahn says his football team has grasped his fast-paced style heading into Saturday's opener against Washington State.
"I think our guys are in a good spot right now. They've learned how to practice," Malzahn said Tuesday. "They've learned how to fight through short periods of fatigue and to push on. I'll be curious to see how we respond out there to that. But as of right now, practice, it's going pretty well."
Plays could be plentiful. Malzahn likes a hurry-up run-based offense. Washington State's Mike Leach's loves to throw it most every down.
Malzahn's OK with going fast.
"We never plan on starting out slowing things down because pace is one of our advantage," Malzahn said. "But as the game gets going on, we're always going to do what gives our team the best chance of winning. We're not going to be stubborn to the point that we're going to put anybody in a bind, but at the same time if you're successful, you keep doing stuff."
So much of the focus on Malzahn, Auburn's offensive coordinator from 2009-11, will be again be on the offense Saturday. His protégé, Rhett Lashlee, is the offensive coordinator this time around.
"We have our plan going in that we're both on top of," Malzahn said. "We're always thinking about adjustments, the 'what ifs.' If they 'do this', what's our answer? We do it together. I'll be the one that actually calls the play, but he will be the guy that will actually be on the sideline looking at it from a different standpoint. He's a very good complement, and I have a lot of confidence in him."
Malzahn said his players are ready to go as well.
"I think back when I first got hired and I see where we're at now. I'm very proud of the guys for buying in," he said. "The stuff they did in the spring and fall camp really have improved all the way around. I'm really looking forward to in person watching our guys play and really seeing where we're at. I told our players the other day, 'I'm excited to watch you guys. I'm curious to see how we respond to certain situations.'
"I think we'll learn a whole lot about our team, so I'm very excited about that."
Auburn defensive back Jonathon Mincy says there's "a new sense of urgency. Everybody is confident with each other."
Malzahn said he will be monitoring "our effort, our attitude. How we handle adversity, how we handle success -- that's what I'm most curious about.
"We have put last year behind us and we're moving forward. That's kind of been our theme and our motto and definitely this will be our first chance to see how our guys react against an opponent."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine