Auburn's Gus Malzahn checking the health of Sean White and Austin Golson on way to the Iron Bowl
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. ― The compliments flowed, an injury report was offered and coaches who have changed sides were the topic of conversation on the Wednesday before Saturday's Iron Bowl.
Nobody stepped out of line heading to the Auburn-Alabama game during the Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday.
"We're playing a very talented team, probably the most talented team in the country," said Auburn's Gus Malzahn.
"We certainly have a tremendous amount of respect for their team. I think they're playing their best football right now," said Alabama's Nick Saban.
The 80th version of the Iron Bowl will be played at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium and will be televised by CBS. Auburn has the biggest questions, mainly concerning the health of quarterback Sean White, who started five games in the middle of the season; and center Austin Golson, who started 10 games. Neither played in last Saturday's win over Idaho because of knee issues. Malzahn said both looked "solid" in Tuesday's practice, but he stopped short of saying either would play against Alabama.
If they can't, Jeremy Johnson figures to carry the load at quarterback and Devonte Danzey will play center for the second straight week.
Malzahn said Tuesday that Johnson has "done a good job with the offense with the tempo and the communication that goes with it. I really like the things he’s done."
• Auburn will celebrate Thanksgiving morning with meetings, practice and then a team meal.
"We'll let our guys break off and go with their families or go to coaches' homes or whatever they'd like to do," Malzahn said. "We'll have a curfew and come back and get ready to have our normal Friday after that."
• Will Muschamp coached with Saban back in the day. Lance Thompson did just last season.
Advantage, Auburn, because the two Tigers' assistant coaches know the tendencies of the Alabama head coach? Or advantage Saban because he knows his former assistants?
"The fact he has been on the other side does nothing but help information," Malzahn said of Thompson, the most recent arrival.
But the game still comes down to the players.
"Any time you play against somebody you've worked with before it gives you a little bit of an idea of what they like to do and what their thoughts are in how they like to play," Saban said. "They, obviously, having been with you certainly know some of the things you like to do. I think you do take that into consideration, but I'm not sure you can change what you do that dramatically because you really have to do what your players know and what they can execute. It probably comes down to the execution of the players at the end of the day whether you have success or not as coaches."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine