By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Rhett Lashlee has helped engineer 14 scoring drives in his first two games as Auburn's play-caller, and that won him praise Thursday night.
"I think Rhett is off to a very good start calling plays. The transition has been good so far," said coach Gus Malzahn on Auburn's Tiger Talk radio show. "I think we have a chance to really get better and better on offense."
Auburn will try to do so at Mississippi State at 11 a.m. Saturday in Starkville in a game that was switched to ESPN from the SEC Network on Thursday. Lashlee, Auburn's offensive coordinator, saw the Tigers kick six field goals in an 18-13 win over LSU two weeks ago after Malzahn gave up his play-calling duties, then saw Auburn score eight touchdowns in a 58-7 win over Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday.
"Our offense is evolving each week," Malzahn said.
'People have made a big deal about him calling plays... He's always been a great coach,' says Auburn's Sean White of Rhett Lashlee. Video pic.twitter.com/IuFWh2LFiy
— Auburn Gold Mine (@AUGoldMine) October 6, 2016
Quarterback Sean White said play-caller or not, Lashlee has been consistent.
"People have made a big deal about him calling the plays, but… you don't notice anything different when he's coming around or in our quarterback meetings," White said. "He's always prepared super-well; he's always been a great coach. I love playing for him."
White pushed Auburn to a 42-7 lead against ULM. Then John Franklin III came in and ran for 80-yard touchdown and threw a 39-yard touchdown pass. Franklin said after the game he liked the touchdown pass more than the run.
"I think from a coaching staff, we felt the same way," Malzahn said. "The more chances he gets to get out there and to show what he can do, the more comfortable he is. I thought he did some very good things Saturday."
Still, "it's all about the executing. I think we're executing at a higher level each game. Mississippi State presents a huge challenge. They're very good against the run, one of the best in the country, and we run the football. That will be a big factor Saturday."
• Malzahn said it's been another good week of practice.
"Our leadership, I've been bragging on them all year… just the leadership setting the tone. They find a way each practice to go out there and do what they're coached to do, to play with intensity, to improve. There's a lot of excitement around our team. You can kind of feel it with our players, you can feel it with our coaches. We just need to continue to get better."
• Malzahn reaffirmed running back Kamryn Pettway and center Xavier Dampeer will play at Mississippi State after missing last week's game with injuries. Running back Malik Miller won't be there after undergoing knee surgery earlier this week.
"It's very unfortunate," Malzahn said. "You talk about a player who was getting better each week. He was running the ball extremely well. Breaking tackles. He's going to be out for a while." Malzahn said Miller could receive a medical redshirt. "We'll do what's best for him."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine