Auburn's Roc Thomas was on the move against LSU
By Charles Goldberg
BATON ROUGE, La. ― Coach Gus Malzahn faced the scoreboard and didn't blink Saturday, saying he would take responsibility for a long day in Tiger Stadium, promising things would get better, saying his football team showed him something by playing hard in the second half.
Auburn's coach was a stand-up guy after LSU won 45-21.
"The only positive is our guys fought, and they kept fighting," Malzahn said. "If they fight, then we're going to get better, and we will get better."
Malzahn was already looking past LSU in the minutes after the game.
"We're going to roll our sleeves up and get ready for next week."
Malzahn mentioned Auburn's trip to Tiger Stadium in 2013 when his team lost 35-21. Months later, Auburn was in the national championship game.
"We were in a very similar situation to this right now, and we got better. That's what we're going to do," he said.
It was Malzahn who congratulated his offense on the bench after it scored the final touchdown of the game, encouraging it to stay prepared.
Auburn's next chance is against Mississippi State next Saturday night in Jordan-Hare Stadium. That gives Malzahn time to review a game in which LSU running back Leonard Fournette rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns. LSU led 24-0 in the first half.
Auburn quarterback Jeremy Johnson bounced back from a tough first half to race 65 yards for a touchdown and throw touchdown passes to Melvin Ray and Duke Williams in the second half.
True freshman running back Kerryon Johnson provided some spark, rushing for 14 yards, catching three passes for 17 yards and returning three kickoffs for 98 yards. But it wasn't enough to overcome Auburn's slow start.
Malzahn didn't hide from it.
"We obviously got off to a bad start," he said. "Our offense in the first half didn't give us a chance, and really put us behind. It didn't give any life to the defense.
"Bottom line, we got our rear kicked."
Malzahn, whose offense has put up huge numbers over the years, said in the first half "the offense was awful, and really didn't give our defense any kind of spark or any kind of hope and put us behind the 8-ball. It was uphill battle, and when you're out there at this place, uphill battles aren't very good." Malzahn was already looking past LSU in the minutes after the game.
"We're going to get better. We're going to roll our sleeves up and get ready for next week," he said.
Malzahn said he would evaluate "everything, every position."
Still, "There were some bright spots, and we've got to build on those bright spots. We are going to get better," Malzahn said.
The game story is here.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine