Auburn won't be holding back with tough stretch ahead
Oct. 20, 2014
Leading receiver Duke Williams, left, has played well for offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, center, and Gus Malzahn in the first half of the season
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn still has three Top 10 teams remaining on the schedule, all down the road, and on the road.
Steve Spurrier is coming to town on Saturday, too.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says the Tigers won't be holding anything back against South Carolina as they open the second half of the season at 6:30 p.m. in Jordan-Hare Stadium. They won't hold anything back, he said, because, well, they can't.
"I've never tried to save anything," Malzahn said on Auburn's Tiger Talk radio show Monday night. "With this stretch we have, we can't save anything. We need to go ahead and do what we need to do to win the games."
Auburn is 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the SEC and very much remains a player in the conference's West Division. To stay there, Malzahn said this year's team will have to follow the path of last year's team by showing improvement each week.
"It's hard to do. Very few teams can do it," Malzahn said. "It's just a matter of each week, finding a way to build upon your strengths. Hit that practice field. Keep improving. It's extremely hard to do, but our guys did it last year and we've got to figure out a way to do it this year."
Malzahn also said…
• On four of the Top 5 teams in the country, including his Tigers, being from the SEC West: "The thing that stands out to me is defense. They can all play defense."
• On freshman running back Roc Thomas the last time out against Mississippi State: "I thought he performed well. Roc will be a part of what we're doing moving forward. You can see Peyton Barber will be a factor, too."
• On veteran running back, and leading rusher, Cameron Artis-Payne: "We're very happy with Cameron. He does such a great job with his protections, his ball fakes, the little things that really make up a special player. It's very important to him. He's one of the hardest workers. He watches more film than probably anybody we have on offense. He's just that type of player."
• On freshman offensive lineman Braden Smith: "You will see him be more of a factor in the second half of the season."
• On receiver Jaylon Denson, who missed most of last year with a knee injury: "He tore his knee up pretty good. You'll see him be more of a factor. He got to play some against Mississippi State. He's starting to get back into a rhythm. He's not 100 percent, but he'll get better each week."
• On the possibility of quarterback Jeremy Johnson playing more: "It is possible. We feel very good about him, as I've said before."
• On quarterback Nick Marshall in the last game: "He made a couple of plays that probably no other quarterback in the country is going to make."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine