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'True winners rebound,' says Auburn's Gus Malzahn
Nov. 18, 2014

Auburn's Gus Malzahn said the Tigers will play on, bounce back

By Charles Goldberg

AUBURN, Ala.  Auburn has already played four of the nation's Top 12 teams and a fifth is waiting in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 29.

The rigors of playing one of, if not the toughest schedule in the country has been daunting, but coach Gus Malzahn wasn't hiding behind it Tuesday.

"We knew the schedule was the toughest when we first started. You've got to have a plan and be strategic," he said. "We didn't play our best football the past two weeks, and we've got to find a way to do that. Our schedule, it is what it is. But I'm not looking for excuses. It is what it is and we knew it when we started.

"We've got to finish this thing."

Auburn can finish the season on a high note with a win over Samford in Saturday's 6 p.m. game in Jordan-Hare Stadium, then by beating Alabama, then by winning the bowl game.

"We've got a strong group of seniors. We've got our entire coaching staff back," Malzahn said. "We've still got a lot to play for."

Auburn is trying to bounce back from last Saturday's loss to Georgia, a defeat ended the Tigers' dream of repeating as SEC champions. The last team to repeat as conference champions was Tennessee in 1997-98.

That's how tough the SEC can be.

"You set your goals high. You don't always reach your goals, and that's the way life works, too," Malzahn said. "And the true champions and the true winners rebound, and they come back and bounce back. And that's been our message.

"Our seniors are definitely committed to that, our leadership. Our coaches are, too. We're disappointed, as well we should be. But that's behind us… We will finish this thing strong, there's no doubt."


• Malzahn defended his defense.

"It's the same defensive staff that led us to 13 seconds away from winning the national championship," he said. "I have confidence in these guys."

• Malzahn didn't formally rule out defensive end Carl Lawson for the season because of offseason knee surgery, but 10 games are already in the books, a year of eligibility would be used up if he played and nobody said he's ready. Malzahn did say "it doesn't look that way" that Lawson would return.

•  Malzahn also said receiver Duke Williams, who hurt his knee two games back against Texas A&M, hasn't practice since the injury.

"It's week to week. We hope to get him back, but I'm not ready to say when yet," Malzahn said.

• That's the same medical report for defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker, who is out with a back injury.

"I feel for Jeff. He's one of our leaders, if not our overall team leader," Malzahn said. "Hopefully, we'll get him back but he's been through a lot as far as that's concerned since he's been here at Auburn."

 • Malzahn said he'll find the right mix at practice to get his team back on track.
"That's part of the coaching strategy. As a coach, you've got to figure out a way to push the right buttons for your team. Every team's different. Each year you're going to have a different makeup of seniors and all that. That's part of coaching," he said.

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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