Sept. 17, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Gus Malzahn sent C.J. Uzomah a text on the way to last Saturday's game, reminding him about one of the plays that Auburn might run.
You know, the one that would ultimately beat Mississippi State a few hours later.
The Nick Marshall-to-C.J. Uzomah game-winner with 10 seconds left was just one of Malzahn's last-minute, be-prepared moments. He'll be prepping his Tigers again this week all the way up to Saturday's 6:45 .m. game at LSU.
"As a coach at the end of the game, your biggest challenge is to always be prepared, always be thinking ahead, making sure that your players are prepared and that they repped it and they went over it," Malzahn said Tuesday. "No matter what look they get, they're prepared, and then you see what happens. Coaching at the end of the game, especially when something positive happens, that's good."
Auburn will be facing a tougher task against LSU, especially in Baton Rouge, where the Tigers haven't won since 1999; and especially against a team that is ranked sixth in the nation. But Auburn is buoyed by the fact it has a 3-0 record and has found its offensive way after struggling last season.
Plus, "Our guys will believe they can win," Malzahn said of the last-minute heroics.
"That's when you really find out, at decision moments that could go either way," he said. "You find out more about your team than you do winning by three touchdowns. I thought it was really good to be able to win a game like that. That'll give you confidence moving forward."
Auburn has 1,321 yards of offense through three games this year. The Tigers had 808 yards in their first three games last season. Auburn has done it both ways this year: Basically by running in the first two games; by passing in the third game.
That run, now pass option may give LSU some pause.
"I hope that'll help us moving forward," Malzahn said. "I know it will give our offensive coaches confidence to call what they give you."
Though Malzahn likes to run, Auburn had to pass against Mississippi State because the Bulldogs stationed an extra defender near the line of scrimmage to stop the tailbacks.
"We're a run, play-action team, so we're definitely going to have to be able to run the football in any game to be successful," Malzahn said. "At the same time, when they add an extra guy down you can't block, you've got to be able to throw it. We're still working on our passing game and I think we improved last week."
Marshall's 339 yards passing last week were more than his combined yardage in the first two games. Marshall saved the best for last. He accounted for 85 of the final drive's 88 yards by passing for 66 and running for 19.
"That's got to help, the way that he ended the game last week," Malzahn said. "You look back at the game, I think we had a few drops and we had an overthrow. But at the same time, I felt like he did a good job throwing the football. I think he'll be more comfortable each week."
•Quick notes, comments from Auburn's Tuesday press conference are here.
A happy, happy Gus Malzahn after beating Mississippi State (Todd Van Emst photo)
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine