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Gus Malzahn: Auburn's defense 'definitely improved'
Sept. 23, 2014

Auburn's Robenson Therezie (27) and Gabe Wright make their point at Kansas State

By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Safety Josh Holsey showed it in Auburn's last win, and he reminded fans Tuesday the Tigers are more than an offense running wild.
"We showed everybody that Auburn has a defense as well an offense," said the safety who helped the Tigers beat Kansas State 20-14 last Thursday.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn was in agreement Tuesday, tipping his offensive cap to a defense that held Kansas State to 40 yards rushing heading into Saturday's 3 p.m. homecoming game against Louisiana Tech.
"I think we definitely improved," Malzahn said.  "We're very good right now stopping the run. I know the very first half of the Arkansas game they had some new wrinkles (and did well), and I think everybody can see they're pretty good at running the football. 
"So we're working on improving in all areas and putting a little more pressure on the quarterback in pass situations. But I like the direction that we're going and I think we're improving."
Auburn has allowed 258 yards rushing in three games, the lowest total since 2008. Auburn's defense is ranked fourth in the SEC. The offense is ranked seventh.
Malzahn said he'd like to see his offense improve. 
"We've got to execute better. We know who we are at this point and we know where we've got to get. We have a lot of room for improvement and that's what we're focusing on," Malzahn said.
Malzahn said there's room for improvement from "everyone," not just from focal point Nick Marshall.
"I know for whatever reason the focus is always on our quarterback and what's wrong with Nick? There's not a whole lot wrong with Nick," he said.
So it's back to basics for Auburn in practice.
"I always look at myself. If you're responsible for something and it's not working, or it's not as efficient as you want it to be, you've got to figure out the way you're teaching it, the way you're explaining it," Malzahn said. "That's the way I always work. We're going to go back to some basics and improve.
"We're not sounding any big alarm or anything. I still think we executed some plays at a very high rate, but the difference is expectations are different this year.
"We're not too far away, so I don't want you to think that we're trying to reinvent the wheel. It's just a matter of us getting better at what we do and being perfect."
Malzahn also said...
• Trovon Reed has played well since moving from wide receiver to defensive back this season.
"We're definitely pleased with Trovon and what he's done. We're putting him on an island some out there. He understands offenses. He understands splits. He understands down and distance. I think that's helped him. But he's got very good ball skills from being a receiver for three years-plus. He'll get more and more comfortable as the season goes on but we were very pleased with him and his play last Thursday."
• Keeping looking for freshman running back Roc Thomas to contribute more.
"He is one of those guys that we'll play more and more as the year goes on. We put him back there at kick return just finding ways to get him the ball. That's one area. But as the season goes on he'll be more and more involved in the running back position."
• Offensive lineman Jordan Diamond is out for the year following surgery.
• Defensive back Jermaine Whitehead is still suspended and won't be on the sidelines Saturday.

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



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