Back to work: Hours after stunning Iron Bowl victory, Gus Malzahn turns attention to Missouri

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comDecember 1, 2013 

AUBURN, Ala.Gus Malzahn celebrated Auburn’s epic victory over Alabama for a few hours Saturday night.

Then it was back to work, as he immediately buried himself in Missouri game tape.

“Any time you're playing for a championship, there's no time to relax,” the coach said during a Sunday teleconference. “We felt like we needed to get a head start on them. They're a very good football team.”

With Malzahn’s gaze squarely on Missouri, his next challenge is getting his team to do the same. He admitted it will be difficult following its emotional win against the arch-rival Crimson Tide, though.

“It was a great night, a great win for us, our program,” he said. “We have to put it behind us now and move forward.”

Fans factor into the equation as well, Malzahn noted, as they will be in the players’ ears — or praising them on Twitter — all week, still wanting to relish its Iron Bowl victory. Staying stoic as ever, Malzahn said it’s simply another thing the Tigers will have to forget about.

“And I really believe our team will do that,” he said.

While the mental aspect is one issue Auburn will deal with, he didn’t want to downplay the toll Saturday’s game took on his team, either.

“It was a very physical game last night,” he said. “It was probably the most physical game we've had all year. So definitely we need to heal up in a hurry.”

In that vein, Malzahn said the coaching staff will have to strike a delicate balance in its lead-up to Saturday's game.

“We're going to need to heal up as far as that goes this week (and) at the same time, try to stay crisp,” he said.

When asked directly whether he expected any players to miss the SEC Championship game, however, Malzahn responded in his typically evasive manner.

“We're hoping not,” he said.

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