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Gus Malzahn on Iron Bowl: “I like our chances”

Kelly Lambert - USA TODAY Sports

Shots fired, words spilled, fill in the blank with whatever adjective needed, but it’s known as “trash talk.”

Alabama center Ryan Kelly is very intelligent.

He is a semifinalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, an honor presented nationally to an athlete that has the best combination of academics, community service and on-field performance. When asked about Auburn’s defensive end Carl Lawson, Kelly said “honestly don’t know who that is. I don’t play defense, I play offense,” per John Talty of In Kelly’s defense, he has not faced Lawson in his career. The junior has missed six games this season and was absent during last year’s Iron Bowl. His lone big play was a tackle on Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon in 2013. Kelly should become acquainted with Lawson after some film study.

While Kelly’s words were taken out of context, senior cornerback Cyrus Jones had one description for Auburn’s wide receiver corps. “I don’t think they’re nothing special, honestly,” Jones said per Matt Zenitz of However, he did give the Tiger wide outs credit for being fast, athletic guys. One player that did not take kind to this notion was Auburn’s Ricardo Louis, who has 44 catches for 675 yards and three scores.

Alabama words are the only ones being illuminated, despite beating Auburn in a 55-44 shootout last season at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Tigers’ head coach Gus Malzahn may have a few tricks in his back pocket, but remember he was the one that said “We should have scored 60 on them,” per Brandon Marcello of

Malzahn added with “We let them off the hook, but we have them at home this year.” Are these words highly discussed? Not so much. Smack talk is not encouraged by coaches, but it gives fans a window into an intense rivalry. Two programs that are separated by 157 miles will battle to see who is the best team in Alabama.

When prompted at this year’s SEC Media Days by TDAM’s Brandon Williams, Malzahn gave a confident response believing then his team was on the brink of surprising many in the college football world. “I like our chances” was his answer four months ago. Now? Fans will have to see if the predicted SEC winner will pull out the upset. Those odds will be tested Saturday, as the 80th Iron Bowl will rumble at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Stephen M. Smith is a senior analyst and columnist for Touchdown Alabama MagazineYou can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @ESPN_Future.

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Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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