“I like our chances.”
Auburn Tigers head coach Gus Malzhan certainly didn’t lack confidence as he stood up to the podium for his Q & A session at the SEC Media Days in Hoover, AL. Making it a point to mention his team lost seven offensive starters and a ton of leadership, Malzhan believes he has the right team to make some noise throughout college football as well as avenge last year’s loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
With Nick Marshall now in the NFL, Malzhan and the Tigers will rely on Junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson to lead the uptempo offense Malzhan implores. Johnson, who’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds is a much more polished passer than Marshall, but make no mistake about it, as Malzhan points out, “We didn’t ask him to run the past couple of years, but he’s a big, athletic guy. He probably runs a 4.6. So he will allow us to call all of our offense.”
With a new defensive coordinator in Will Muschamp, Malzhan believes his defensive expertise gives them a competitive advantage by having what he calls, “The best defensive mind in all of college football.” In addition to Muschamp, the return of Carl Lawson will provide a much-needed increase in pressuring the opposing quarterback and according to Malzhan, “Not having Carl, that really hurt us last year…the fact that we have him back and he’s 100 percent is a real blessing for us.”
All of these factors may not seem like a lot for the typical fan, but for a coach who has shown the tendency to do a lot with a little, Malzhan believes this team won’t allow another disappointing loss. As for the game last year, “We played extremely well on offense, didn’t play very well on defense, gave up a lot of points, specifically in the second half. But we’re playing at home this year, and I like our chances.”
If the 2013 Iron Bowl was any indication of what Alabama and Auburn fans can expect in terms of excitement, it might be best to buckle your seatbelts. Alabama has a bit of revenge itself to inflict — expect a dog fight down in the plains.