Malzahn previews Auburn’s game against Georgia

AUBURN, Al. – Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn met with the media on Tuesday to preview the Tigers upcoming game against Georgia. Below is the transcript courtesy of Auburn Sports Information:

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn press conference

Previewing the Georgia game

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Opening Statement… “We had a tough, hard-fought victory last Saturday. I am proud of our team and how they responded to adversity. I am proud of our coaches to get a victory there.

“This is a big week; it’s one of our rivals. We are playing at their place and we haven’t had a lot of success over there as of late and we have to solve that. They are a very talented team, they are always talented, and they play well at home. We are going to have to play well and our guys understand that and they will be ready to go.”

On Sean White’s status…“He will start.”

On Kamryn Pettway’s status…“We are hoping to get him on the practice field today or tomorrow. He has done well so far. He is a quick healer. I will know more later in the week, but he is planning on practicing. It’s a leg injury.”

Status of Tré Williams… “Tre’ Williams is back. We will also have Deshaun (Davis) back and that will help. Those guys are our quarterbacks on defense. Hats off to the linebackers that took their place on Saturday. What they did was very impressive. We should have everyone back and ready to go defensively.”

How healthy is Sean White…“He’s not 100% or we would have started him last week, but he went in the game and did a solid job. He will be better this week than he was last week. We will see how it goes in practice. Like I said, last week he didn’t take any reps in practice. He did warm up on Thursday, just to see what he could do, but he didn’t practice.”

What is White’s injury…“It’s an injury.”

On Tony Stevens’ status…“Tony’s back. Tony’s ready to go.”

On the rest of the running backs subbing for Pettway…“I feel pretty good about that. We didn’t have Pettway one game, and Kerryon Johnson has done a super job. Stanton Truitt has done a great job of running between the tackles when we have asked him to. We feel good about what we have. We are not ruling out Pettway yet. I mean I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays, but at the same time, we have other guys that will be ready to go. We have a lot of confidence in those guys.”

Could Chandler Cox play running back…“It is a possibility, too. He’s a good runner. He ran very well in the spring. He came out of the spring probably as good as any runner we had. We will see.”

On what he learned from his team on Saturday…“They can handle adversity. They showed a lot of guts and a lot of courage. Any time you are playing well, you are going to be the target of everyone. You are going to get their best. We got Vandy’s best. They had a week off and played extremely hard. We were down at halftime at home when we were expected to win. When you have that feeling, you can overcome it. I think that does nothing but help your team. We are very proud of the courage they showed and the guts they showed and the toughness. Even on special teams, we had a lot of new faces out there. We had a lot of people go down that weren’t there. It was a really good team win that I know will help us in the future.”

On the defensive line…“I think they have played well all year. Now we have some young guys starting to step up and help us with depth. It has been a good year up front and we have to continue to build upon it. This week is no different. We have to play well up front. We have done that every game so far.”

Will there be a throw count for Sean White during practice…“We are going to be smart with him. He will practice this week, but we are going to be smart with him. He’s a tough guy. He is a real tough guy. He showed a lot of guts and courage last week.”

Does White’s play make the whole team better…“You’ve seen it before. Sometimes quarterbacks have that effect. When we put him out there in the second half, it was like a new energy on the sideline. We got back in our groove and our flow, and that says a lot about our quarterback being a leader of the team. When you have a good team, your quarterback is usually a leader. His teammates have a lot of respect for him, and so do his coaches. That’ll help him moving forward. I’m sure that had to feel good for him.”

On the wide receivers’ blocking… “We have a bunch of freshmen and redshirt freshmen out there. They’re still learning and playing hard. We’re making a few mistakes, but they’re going to play hard. They’ll play their guts out. We just have to keep working, and we’ll do that in practice. They did some good things blocking, too. There were some good ones that resulted in some pretty good runs. We just have to keep improving.”

What has caused this season’s turnaround…“It’s the leadership of our players. That’s really where it starts. We went through a little bit of a storm early. Coaches, being more mature, are used to dealing with all that, but the leadership of our team never budged. They didn’t listen to any kind of negativity. They just kept working. We never had a bad practice. We never had a practice where you just thought, ‘Oh, no.’ It’s really our players and leadership. They deserve the credit.”

On Jacob Eason… “Any time you have experience in something, such as a big game and everything that goes with it, you get more comfortable. He’s at the end of the year. You can tell he has had more snaps, and you can tell he’s more comfortable. Each game and each quarterback is different. You have a specific plan on how to attack, and they’re all different. We will have a plan.”

On what Kirby Smart brought from Alabama to Georgia…

“There’s carry-over, no doubt. It’s his defense. They have a lot of talented players. They had a lot of talented players where he was before. He’s used to coaching talented players.”

Does that familiarity help this week…“Yeah, there’s no doubt. We know each other very well. We have a lot of history. We’ve been against each other a lot.”

On what this game means to the players from Georgia…“It probably means a lot to the ones from Georgia. There are quite a few of them, but it’s a big game every year. This is one of our rival games. Whether you’re from there or not from there, it’s always going to be big if you play here at Auburn.”

On Joshua Holsey’s performance this season…“Josh has had his best year, I believe. Stability, leadership – he’s a quarterback on the back end. He has the ability to make a play when the team needs it. You’ve seen that ability two weeks in a row. They (interceptions) were both in the fourth quarter of games that were yet to be decided. He made the play of the game. That says a lot about him. He’s playing at a very high level right now.”

Is Holsey is one of the best cornerbacks in the SEC…“I think the way he’s played this year really speaks for itself. He’s an outstanding player. He definitely deserves to be in the conversation.”

On Montravius Adams’ development this year…“He’s a different player this year. He was a really good player before, but he’s really raised his level. He’s becoming a man. He’s growing up. He’s more mature with his approach to practice and games. He’s one of our best players. He’s an impact player.”

On the importance of having DeShaun Davis and Tre’ Williams back in the lineup…“I think that’s really big. Both of those guys are playing at an extremely high level. They’re both like coaches on the field. They both quarterback the defense. When they’re on the field together, it’s a good thing.”

When did Montravius Adams take his game to the next level…“I think it’s been a process. After his freshman year, I think you can see him gradually maturing every year. He’s gotten used to college football and everything that goes with it. This year has really been impressive to watch.”

Has he discussed voting with the players…“I have not. I’m sure I will.”

On Marlon Davidson’s status… “He was banged up. He did a good job of coming in and doing a good job. Derrick Brown is a guy that can play outside or inside. I thought he did some really good things last week on the outside, too. “

How does a quarterback injury change game planning and strategy… “I think any time you have an injury, it affects how you approach, not only the game plan, but how you approach practice. Every injury is different though. But it definitely affects you.”

Was White throwing only one 20-yard pass vs. Vanderbilt due to his injury … “Not necessarily. He threw a really good ball on that 20-yarder, but it was really on the other side of the field, too, so it was probably was close to a 35- or 40-yarder.”

On Georgia’s talent … “They’re talented. They’re always going to be one of the top 10 teams that recruit and one of the top 10 teams talent-(wise). They’re always going to be talented.”

On Auburn’s success in recruiting defensive linemen from the state of Georgia … “I credit it to Auburn being a special place and a great school. And Rodney Garner having Georgia ties. Traditionally, we’ve always recruited well in Georgia. That’s a big state for our success.”

Will he bring up possible changes to the targeting rule during the offseason … “I don’t know about that. Players’ safety is the No. 1 thing. Everybody needs to be on the same page with that, and I am, too. It’s just a matter of just what is and what isn’t. We obviously focus on staying away from the head and all that. I don’t know what will happen in the offseason, but I know that around the country that’s always a big, big discussion.”

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