Nov. 7, 2013
Gus Malzahn has Auburn at 8-1 heading to Tennessee (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn coach Gus Malzahn says things remain on an even keel for his football team, even after an 8-1 start and even with a chance to make significant noise down a stretch that includes rivals Georgia and Alabama.
"The fans will look ahead with that, but we can't let our minds go there," Malzahn said. "It's Tennessee."
Auburn plays the Volunteers at 11 a.m. Saturday in Neyland Stadium with the Tigers having a chance to improve upon their No. 7 ranking in the AP and No. 9 ranking in the BCS.
"We've got our hands full with Tennessee, and that's the only thing on our minds," Malzahn said on Auburn's Tiger Talk radio show Thursday night. "Like I told the guys, at the end of the year, we'll be able to pat ourselves on the back for this or that, but we're only thinking about the next game."
Malzahn said the team has had a good approach all season, and he took special note of it when Auburn was preparing for Florida Atlantic.
"I think back to our big win at Texas A&M, our next opponent was a lesser opponent and a lot of teams would have let up. But they still practiced hard," Malzahn said. "I feel like they got better that Saturday. They're not looking ahead, and that's a tribute to our players."
Malzahn said the 10th game of the season has brought the usual aches and pains. Yet, he said, Auburn had its best Tuesday practice of the season this week, he said.
•Auburn threw nine passes last week, "but only two past the line of scrimmage," Malzahn said.
Instead, Auburn was going to run it and everybody knew it.
"That's a tribute to our guys up front — run the football when they know you're going to run it," Malzahn said.
•Malzahn said quarterback Nick Marshall has moved past injury concerns and is "ready to go" for Saturday's game. Malzahn didn't know, for sure, if Marshall could start last week at Arkansas after nursing a sore shoulder at practice last week.
•Despite Auburn's success, Malzahn said coaches are still "laying the groundwork" in their first year on the job.
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine