Oct. 24, 2013
Nick Marshall: Voted most improved on offense by Ellis Johnson (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Whoa, whoa, whoa. Auburn's 45-41 win over Texas A&M last week was nice and all, but it's time to move on.
That was the word from offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson during their appearance on the school's Tiger Talk radio show Thursday night.
"The only thing that matters is this Saturday and this game against Florida Atlantic," Lashlee said.
But the dynamics of the season changed with that win, and the coaches acknowledge it. Auburn improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC and finds itself ranked No. 11 in both the BCS standings and the AP poll.
"It's different now when you're a little more the hunted than the hunter," Lashlee said. "But we've got where we're at because our kids bought in to what we're doing."
Still, he said, "None of those other games in the past or the next few weeks matter if you don't play well on Saturday. That's our sole focus."
Lashlee says he's interested to see how the Tigers handle success in Saturday's 6:30 p.m. home game against Florida Atlantic.
"We still have a young football team. Everybody is excited right now. But where we're at from a maturity level, I don't know. We're going to find out," he said. "Most teams coming off a big win like that are going to have a letdown. They just are. They're going to feel good, and they're going to have troubling focusing the next week.
"I think we'll learn about our team Saturday, maybe more so than we did last Saturday in where we're at in that process."
Johnson said he learned a lot about the Tigers — and how they'd play as a team — in how they handled themselves in College Station against Johnny Manziel and the wide-open Aggies.
"I guess the best analogy is they're going to run up and down the court, and they're not going to worry about turnovers, they're going to shoot 3-pointers, and they're going to hit about 60 percent of them," Johnson said. "It's just their style of football."
But the key, Johnson said, was this:
"We talked about our rebound plays: 'How are we going to play once we make a sack?' Or, 'How are we going to play once we give up a big touchdown'? How are you going to rebound from good plays and big plays? With him, he's such a great player, he's going to make plays."
How great? "I don't want to see him again," Johnson said.
•Johnson says he considers Kris Frost and Jake Holland co-starters. "It's linebacker-by-committee right now."
•Recruiting, Lashlee said, "is going well. When you can string some wins together it gets a lot better. It doesn't take much for kids to be interested in Auburn."
•An inside look at Auburn's offense, courtesy of the defensive coordinator? Johnson said quarterback Nick Marshall is the most improved, especially since he didn't join the team until Aug. 1.
•Auburn's been one of the surprise teams in the country, but Johnson didn't take the bait from someone who wanted him to predict the score of the Iron Bowl.
"I'm not even going to predict the Florida Atlantic score," he joked.
Johnson said the Alabama game is too far off.
"I'm looking forward to that game, but we've got a long way to go before we play that game," he said.
"It would be nothing better than to have two great football teams from in state to have a chance to play for something bigger than just one year of bragging rights."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine