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Gus Malzahn: Opportunities lost, but future bright, too
Nov. 30, 2014

Nick Marshall helped Auburn put up 630 yards against Alabama

By Charles Goldberg

TUSCALOOSA, Ala.  Gus Malzahn watched his team romp to 630 yards, score a lot of points, run a whopping 90 plays.

But Auburn's coach mostly talked about the disappointments of offensive opportunities lost in Saturday's 55-44 loss to Alabama while striking an optimistic tone for the seasons to come.

"The future is bright. We'll rebound. We'll be ready for next year," Malzahn said.

Auburn trailed by as many as 11 in the first quarter, led by as many as 12 in the third quarter, trailed by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter, kept trying, scoring with 20 seconds left to cut the final margin to 11.

"I'm proud of our team. They fought to the end. They represented us, and played hard. But it's a disappointing loss," Malzahn said.

This Iron Bowl broke all sorts of Iron Bowl offensive records.

The teams combined for 99 points, 1,169 yards, 70 passes, 12 touchdowns and, in Malzahn's way of thinking, too many Auburn field goals. Daniel Carlson hit five of them, just one off the school record, but four of them came after the Tigers had driven inside the Alabama 10.

Auburn's total yards and 90 plays are the most ever against Alabama in any game. But to a exacting offensive coach such as Malzahn, it wasn't good enough.

"I think the name of the game really was we got in the red zone and we had to kick field goals. We didn't score touchdowns. We had enough yards to score a whole bunch of points," Malzahn said. 

Forty-four points weren't enough, even though Auburn led 26-21 at the half and 36-34 after three quarters. Alabama pulled away with three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Auburn kept fighting, though, scoring the last time with 20 seconds remaining.

The Tigers put up some eye-popping offensive stats. Nick Marshall passed for 456 yards and three touchdowns. Sammie Coates had five catches for 206 yards and two TDs. Duke Williams had seven catches for 121 yards.

The SEC's leading rushing team piled up the passing yards.

Alabama played the run. 

"They played a lot of man coverage and rolled extra guys down to stop the run. We felt like we could throw it over the top," Malzahn said. 

Besides, he said, "looking at their defense, they have a five-star player at every position" so throwing deep was something to keep Alabama off guard.

"We just felt like they could be exposed through the air deep down the field," Malzahn said.

Malzahn was right. But in his way of thinking, the drives that came up short, that ended in field goals, left work to be done.

"Our goal was to win 10 games, and didn't do it," he said. "We're going to go to a bowl and do everything in our power to lead these seniors out" with a win.

Auburn will officially learn its bowl fate a week from Sunday, if not before.

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



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