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Auburn feeling good upon arriving for Outback Bowl
Dec. 26, 2014

Gus Malzahn looking for another big time at the Outback Bowl

By Charles Goldberg

TAMPA, Fla.  Gabe Wright spotted the almost-life-size cutout figure of teammate and quarterback Nick Marshall and began moving him about for some good natured fun.

"I never really get to hit him at practice…" said the Auburn defensive lineman as he sized up his cardboard competition.

It was all good, though.

"His throwing motion looks pretty solid," Wright surmised of the Marshall wannabe.

Auburn, Gabe Wright and coach Gus Malzahn arrived in Tampa for the Outback Bowl on Friday looking for a good time, and found it at a welcoming dinner for the Tigers and Wisconsin that featured what the bowl's namesake served up, like 900 pounds of ribs, 750 pounds of steak, 750 pounds of chicken, 1,600 shrimp and 1,200 pounds of cheese cake.

Both teams will begin working that off Saturday as they move toward their Jan. 1 meeting, and both teams have something to prove after losing last time out, Auburn to Alabama, and Wisconsin to Ohio State.

"It's our objective we want to be the most improved team since that last loss," Wright said. "That's what Coach Malzahn preaches, and, as players, that what we've been putting out on the practice field. We went seven straight days of practice. We've really been getting after it. It's time to get back to work."

Malzahn said the Tigers remember their last time here when Auburn beat Northwestern.

"We had a great experience in 2009 with the whole bowl week and everything that goes with it. Our coaches and players are really looking forward to playing a very good Wisconsin team.

"They do a great job balancing everything. You come here to win a football game and you've got your practice and your meetings, but they have enough fun stuff for the players to keep it entertaining. In 2009, our guys had nothing but great things to say about everything that leads up to the bowl, and then the bowl game itself."

Auburn was away from football for less than a week for Christmas.

"It's all great," Wright said. "Being back with each other, I think everybody is back in that comfort, familiarity. This is a great bowl. We're very privileged to be here."


• Malzahn said after the dinner that receiver Duke Williams and linebacker Cassanova McKinzy were both late arriving, but would be in Tampa. 

• Some of the activities for Auburn during bowl week include:

A visit to Tampa General Hospital on Saturday afternoon and attending the Tampa Bay Lightning game Saturday night.
Team Night at Splitsville on Sunday
A trip to Busch Gardens on Monday
A visit to Clearwater Beach on Tuesday

• Malzahn said all the players are healthy.

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



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