By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn says he's counting on leadership among the players to help put Auburn back on track.
"I've been bragging on our leadership all the way back to the offseason. Our leadership is very strong," said the Auburn coach during Wednesday's SEC teleconference.
Malzahn said the Tigers have "moved on" from last week's loss to Texas A&M and are ready to play LSU at 5 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"Our leadership has really taken charge of the team. Their focus is on LSU. They've practiced extremely well this week with great energy. That says a lot about those guys."
Malzahn set that tone at his weekly press conference Tuesday.
"From a team leader standpoint, my job is to make sure that our players are all on the same page. We've got an extremely close group. We have great leadership, which helps with that. There'll be no friction within this team. The big thing is our players are playing their guts out. They're playing hard."
LSU beat Auburn 45-21 last season behind Leonard Fournette, who rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns. Malzahn said last year's game won't have much of an impact on Saturday.
"Last year, they got the best of us, there's no doubt about that," Malzahn said. "Their running back had one of those Heisman-type games. But this is a different year."
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele was on the other side of that game last year. He was LSU's defensive coordinator for that one.
Now, Malzahn said, "we're glad we have him. He's done a great job with our defense. Our defensive players have really responded to him. They're having fun playing. He's still learning those guys, and they're still learning him, so the encouraging thing is we really feel like we can get better."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine