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Gus Malzahn: Auburn 'a very good team' despite mistakes
Oct. 11, 2014

Auburn's defense creates a turnover by forcing Mississippi State's Dak Prescott to lose control

By Charles Goldberg 
STARKVILLE, Miss.  Gus Malzahn talked of missed opportunities and turnovers, and the fact one loss isn't going to change the opinion of his team.
"There are a lot of champions in that locker room," Auburn's coach said talking to his players, and after Mississippi State scored a 38-23 victory Saturday at Scott Field.
"We'll learn from it. We'll be better for it. I still think this is a very good team. We have areas to improve in, and we'll be committed to do that."
This was just Malzahn's second regular-season loss in a year-and-a-half at Auburn. The last time he lost in the regular season, when the Tigers fell at LSU last season, Auburn went on a run, won the Southeastern Conference championship and played for the national title.
"You've got to learn from this," Malzahn said. "We've had a setback, similar to this last year." And now, Malzahn said, "they're great competitors" still playing for Auburn.
"They'll be committed to getting better."
This year is more of a mystery in the SEC West, especially when it appears every SEC West team can be a handful to its divisional rival every weekend. Here, No. 3 Mississippi State beat the No. 2 Tigers thanks to be more effective in the red zone and making the most of the eight turnovers in the game.
Each team had four, but the difference, Malzahn said, was what State did with the ones he got. State scored 21 points off turnovers. Auburn scored 13. State scored on 5-of-6 trips to the red zone, scoring touchdowns four times. Auburn scored on 4-of-6 red zone trips, but only two were for touchdowns. 
"Our turnovers, they turned into points," Malzahn said. "Their turnovers, we didn't do a very good job turning those into points. I thought that was a big factor, too."
State scored six times. Auburn scored five times. But the Tigers were always playing from behind…after they lost the football on their first two snaps of the game. State turned them into quick touchdowns. The Bulldogs led 21-0 after the first quarter.
"Our defense did a good job getting turnovers, but we didn't capitalize with points. It was a big factor," Malzahn said.
Auburn found trading turnovers and field goals for turnovers and touchdowns was a losing proposition.
"I think the big factor in the game was our red zone offense not being able to score touchdowns," Malzahn said. "We had two field goals in the first half and one miss. That was a big factor in the game. The third quarter we get close, and something would happen. I just never felt we could get that momentum.
"But the bottom line is you give Mississippi State credit. They're a very good football team."
Mississippi State improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the SEC. Auburn fell to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the league.
The Tigers have a bye week next week to study what happened.
"We didn't play our best," Malzahn said. "We're still one of the better teams. I feel strong about that. We'll get better. We've got an off week. It's good. We've got to heal up a little bit and fix a few things."

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



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