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Top Seven Points Gus Malzahn Covered at SEC Media Days

(photo: John Amis/AP)

SEC Media Days 2018 is in the books. And Gus Malzahn was the first to take the podium on the last day of the event. Here’re the top seven points the Auburn coach addressed on Thursday.

1. Auburn is a hungry team.

Not surprisingly Gus said he wants his 2018 team to take that next step. i.e. get to the College Football Playoff. He said Auburn finished the season as an “almost” CFP team after winning the SEC West before losing to Georgia in the championship game. 

He didn’t make any excuses even though Auburn had to play both teams that were in the finals, and one of those twice, in a span of three weeks. Instead Gus said it has made his team hungry. “I really like our team. I like our leaders. There’s nothing like experience in our league,” Malzahn said. “And we experienced some highs, some lows, and, like I said, we were close. I just really sense urgency and a hunger from that group.”

2. Likes a change in a new rule change.

A few weeks ago, Malzahn came out strongly against the new headset rule restricting how many coaches and players can wear a headset on the sidelines and in the box during games. Previously the NCAA rules committee had proposed limiting the number to 20 but now has relaxed the total to 23. 

Gus had called the rule change a joke and reiterated Thursday that if it was up to him, it would remain the same as it has always been. [But]”I think it’s better than what it was. “Like I said [before] my biggest concern was being able to function, to be able to coach the game at the highest level … and make adjustments during the game and, probably more importantly, at halftime.”  

3.
 Gus and Nick on the same side of an issue.

Malzahn came out in support of a nine-game SEC schedule that heretofore was only championed by Nick Saban. After being strongly against the idea Malzahn said, “I’ve changed my tune I think Nick has been the only one for it. But I’m to that point I think is best for us moving forward to make the schedules more equal across the conference.”

“Looking at our conference and everything that goes with it: East, West, two new teams added to the league. My big thing,” Gus said, “Is for the equity within the conference, the strength of schedule and trying to be fair.” 

Translation: It would solve the “unfair” scheduling problem of Auburn  having to play both Georgia and Alabama on the road at the end of the season every other year.

4. Jarrett Stidham to be his first quarterback allowed to do audibles.

Malzahn said he plans to, “turn Jarrett Stidham loose.” The signal caller will be the first quarterback in Malzahn’s 12-year college coaching career to be able to make checks and change plays at the line of scrimmage regularly. This is a big move for Gus. Not even Cam Newton was granted that freedom. But Gus has put his trust in Stidham saying, “He’s ready for it.”

5. Running back position is Kam Martin’s to lose.

In a backhanded compliment, Gus said, “If we played today, Kam Martin would be the first one out there,” But he went onto say, “We’ve got four or five other talented young men. It’s just going to be a matter of who steps up.” He compared the upcoming competition to a couple of years ago when Kam Pettway unexpectedly, “stepped up and did a good job.”

6. Defensive back Jeremiah Dinson will return from injury.

Defensive back Jeremiah Dinson will be “…ready to go full throttle,”said Gus. Dinson is probably Auburn’s best DB, and he will be needed in the lineup when the Tigers face Chris Petersen’s high flying Washington attack in the Kickoff Classic. 

Center Kaleb Kimis also expected back, but receivers Eli Stove and Will Hastings may not be fully recovered from ACL surgery till later in the season.

7. Why he brought J.B. Grimes back on the coaching staff.

When offensive line coach Herb Hand left for Texas after last season, Malzahn quickly rehired former assistant J.B. Grimes. The reason? He needed someone that he had confidence in to get an O-Line back to championship caliber. “J.B. Grimes is a super teacher,” Malzahn said. “Probably the best teacher of offensive line coaches that I’ve been around.”

On an unrelated note …

There weren’t any jabs between coaches at this year’s Media Days. In fact there was little controversy save for a swipe at new Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruit by two network analysts

(one from CBS and one from ESPN). The two former Georgia players said Jeremy Pruitt wasn’t fit to be a head coach.

While I’m no fan of Coach Pruitt, it seems to me that anyone claiming to be a television analyst who derides an opposing coach of a school they used to play for makes themselves look like they are “not fit to be impartial TV analysts.

9 Comments

  1. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    ……Ultimately, no real news from media days, although I liked how a lot of the new coaches, as well as Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn presented themselves, and represented their teams. As to Murray and co, if there actually WAS an issue with coach Jeremy Pruitt, what was it? You tossed the animosity card out there, so what were the details?

  2. Acid Reign Acid Reign says:

    …..Unless these guys will go on record, you have to figure it was ratings-grabbing yack.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Their details were based soley on gossip.

      Aaron Murray said that he didn't think Pruit could get along with a college president, AD, or boosters. He said he had a problem with authority. He admitted he got his information about Pruit from others.

      David Pollack said he had heard stories he believed to be true, that some of the things Pruitt did to Mark Richt were the most disrespectful, most crazy things the story tellers had ever seen.

      So putting their own lack of ethical reporting aside by passing goasip off on TV as truth, I find it peculiar they would slam Pruit on a broadcast and take up for Ritch when neither one played at UGa when Pruit was on the coaching staff there.

      • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

        Disclaimer:

        I admired David Pollack when he played college football and was disapointed when an injury derailed a promising pro career. Felt like he was a good guy and he played the game with some of the most intensity I ever witnessed. I hated to see him stoop to this level.

      • Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

        No sports journalist left. These days they’re either ex jocks are pretty girls.

  3. meathead530 says:

    Time for GCM to lead this talented team to victory. He’s on my hotseat.

  4. Pine Mt Tiger Pine Mt Tiger says:

    Letting Stidham check out of plays at the line of scrimmage ‘is’ a really big deal. Hopefully it will prove very productive to the offense. Last year he threw over 3,000 yards. If Auburn has a good O-Line and another 1,000 yard runner, I’m thinking Jarrett may throw for 4,000+ yards this year. But someone has to step up in place of the go to guys Will Hastings and Eli Stove.