Nov. 5, 2013
Auburn's Gus Malzahn offers advice on the way to a win over Arkansas (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — They've been asked to play on the toughest schedules around. Seven Top 25 teams in the first 10 games, including three straight games involving teams in the Top 10.
Tennessee is 4-5 heading into Saturday's game against No. 7 Auburn, but has this up its sleeve: The Volunteers are 4-1 in Neyland Stadium, and that's where they'll play host to the Tigers at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said that changes everything for his 8-1 Tigers because "just the fact that they're able to beat a South Carolina team and had a chance to beat Georgia, both at home.
"Of course, that's what I'm looking at. They're a different team at home and we know we're going to get their best."
They're also getting a largely inexperienced quarterback. Freshman Joshua Dobbs, who has played two games, and started the last one, is filling in for the injured Justin Worley. Dobbs threw for 240 yards and ran for a team-high 45 yards.
"That will be our challenge to try to keep him off-balance. He's a very talented young man. He can throw it, he can run it. He presents a dual-threat challenge," Malzahn said.
Tennessee has shifted from a running team to a passing one. The Vols had more rushing yards than passing yards in the first three games, but has passed for more yards in five of the last six. Auburn is a rushing team. That's no mystery. The Tigers have run for more yards in seven of their nine games.
"That's where it's got to start with us. We've got to establish the run," Malzahn said.
As far as his own offense, Malzahn said he's hoping quarterback Nick Marshall will have a normal, healthy week of practice, and not the week he had last year where he nursed his sore shoulder until throwing Thursday, and not getting the go-ahead to start until Saturday.
It didn't seem to faze him. Auburn won for the fifth straight time, the second longest winning streak in the SEC.
"I think any time you're successful, you're going to be more confident," Malzahn said. "I really feel like this team's grounded. They've bought into taking it one game at a time. I don't hear anybody talking about anything looking forward.
"That's a lot of maturity from our older guys as far as leadership. They've done a very good job in that area."
Video: Gus Malzahn talks Tennessee, Anthony Swain's injury and more:
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine