Auburn notebook: Tigers' calm pays off in the second half

Sept. 2, 2014


Gus Malzahn found reasons to applaud his Tigers in the second half against Arkansas

By Charles Goldberg
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. The three-touchdown favorite found itself tied at halftime. No problem for Auburn.

The Tigers, who scored four SEC comeback victories last season, ran away from Arkansas in the second half last Saturday in a 45-21 victory. Auburn did it by outscoring the Hogs 24-0 in the second half, by holding the Razorbacks to 2 yards rushing, to limiting them to three first downs.

"It was very comforting to go in the locker room and see how our guys were ready to respond. There wasn't any panic. They'd been there before," said coach Gus Malzahn on Tuesday. "And the great thing is our coaching staff had experienced that numerous times last year. They just listened up. The coaches made some adjustments. They went out there and executed and really raised their level.

"Our guys settled down and played a very good half of football after halftime."

The goal, Malzahn said, is "to be very calm."

Oh, the details. "We let our players use the restroom, get watered up, get checked out, whatever. Our coaches have about a 6-7-minute span that we talk through things. The offensive staff, defensive staff, get together, make our adjustments, go out there and we have about a 6-minute window to get with our players and make the adjustments and they go out there.

"Our players deserve a lot of credit because coaches can have all the adjustments they want, the players have to go out there and execute the adjustments."

Malzahn touched on other topics during his weekly press conference Tuesday…

• He said he wasn't surprised that quarterback Jeremy Johnson put up big numbers in the first half Saturday, saying his play "pretty much that confirmed what we thought about Jeremy."

"We've been saying for a long time that he's a very talented quarterback. It was good to see him go out there and perform like that. We were very impressed as a coaching staff. We said that he'd have a role even before that game and he will. Each week, it could possibly be a little different."

• On Corey Grant: "Last year, he was primarily outside. Now, he's really doing a solid job with his inside running. He'll get more and more comfortable as the season goes on."

 • On the big debut of receiver Duke Williams: "He's a little bit different, probably, than we’ve had in the past. I’ve had speed guy or big guys and all that but he’s probably a little bit different."

• On an occasional appearance of Quan Bray as the Wildcat quarterback: "I trust him with the ball. He can do a lot of different things."

• On quarterback Nick Marshall's passing: "We have a lot of confidence in Nick throwing the ball and really feel like he’ll be very successful this year."

• On Robenson Therezie's play after being cleared to play less than 24 hours before kickoff.

"He’s an impact player. Last year, he made a lot of big plays for us." Saturday, he hit Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen, which resulted in a bad pass that Jermaine Whitehead intercepted and returned 33 yards for a touchdown.

• On receiver Melvin Ray, who had a long touchdown play:  "I was real happy for him Saturday because he has been probably the most consistent receiver that we've had in fall camp leading up to the game, just wanting to practice, and practiced extremely hard. He's doing all the little things right in practice and he was rewarded with a very good game. He's a veteran guy, he understands defenses, he's a good blocker and he made two big impact plays to help us win that game."

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