Oct. 16, 2013
Auburn's Gus Malzahn hopes for a happy time in College Station, too (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin says he's not watching video of last year's game against Auburn, even though his Aggies won 63-21 and even though Johnny Manziel had one of his patented monster games.
Why bother, Sumlin figures, with Auburn being so different this year under new coach Gus Malzahn?
"Coach Malzahn and the new coaching staff have brought a lot of energy to the program, playing with success and a winning attitude," Sumlin said. "Schematically, they've changed across the board."
No. 24 Auburn and No. 7 Texas A&M each enter Saturday's game in College Station with 5-1 overall records and 2-1 mark in the Southeastern Conference.
Wednesday, both coaches praised the other on the SEC teleconference, with Sumlin talking up Auburn's turnaround, which is the nation's most dramatic in college football so far this season; and with Malzahn talking up Manziel and A&M's runaway offense, and saying he hopes Auburn fares better on the road than it did against LSU.
Sumlin said he'll be facing "a very hot Auburn that is playing with a lot of energy and a lot confidence. I think it will be a heck of a ballgame this weekend."
The easy showdown to look at is this: Manziel and the SEC's top passing game against Tre Mason and the league's top running game.
"They do a fantastic job," Sumlin said. "Leading the league in rushing is not a fluke. They take pride in it. They work at it. And they've been extremely successful at it."
There's a chance of rain in College Station on Saturday. Auburn played through rain at LSU.
"This is the second Top 10 opponent on the road," Malzahn said. "We didn't handle ourselves very well the first time, at least the first quarter. We got in bind and played uphill the rest of the game. Hopefully, we'll respond better this road trip.
"We know a little bit more about our team. We're a couple of games more experienced now."
Malzahn knows he he'll have his hand full with Manziel. But he likes the idea of Auburn having both Nick Marshall and Jeremy Johnson to play the position for the first time. Marshall started the first five games, but was held out last week with a minor injury. Johnson stepped in and threw four touchdown passes and was named the SEC freshman of the week.
Now, Marshall is expected to start again.
"I really think it gives us confidence. Any time you get your backup experience, you know a little bit more how he's going to respond," Malzahn said. "We feel like we can utilize them both in different aspects."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine