COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn spoke with media members after his upset of No. 7 Texas A&M on Saturday, which saw the Tigers topple the Aggies 45-41.
See the transcript of his postgame interview session below.
"First of all, big win for our program. Texas A&M is one of the top teams in the country, and on their home field, we challenged our players to improve each week and each game and they've done that. I'm very proud of those guys. We've been working on getting our edge back and we're getting closer. It's a big win for our program right now."
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On Nick Marshall running the zone read:
"We tried to early with some different formations. They did a good job of mixing it up. Our plan was to be in the game at halftime and try to wear them down in the second half. I think for the most part it worked."
On his last timeout:
"We just wanted to catch our breath. We kind of figured out what they were doing and we wanted to make sure the 'big guy' (Mike Evans) didn't beat us. He's a phenomenal player and we just wanted to catch our breath and (get) our bearings to get a plan for the next couple of plays."
On Marcus Davis' catch on Auburn's last drive:
"Yeah, it was big. They were playing zero and putting everybody on the line of scrimmage and they kind of bottled us up a couple of times. I think it was a third-down play if I remember right and Marcus made a great catch and our quarterback made a very good throw."
On when they decided on the play:
"Me and Coach Lashlee do it together. Coach Lashlee deserves a lot of credit today. He had these guys prepared and they were executing very good in the fourth quarter when we needed to."
On Auburn's defense against Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel:
"You've got to try to bottle up the guy. He's phenomenal when things break down. In the fourth quarter when he came back, I think we were a little bit fresher there and we made the two big plays toward the end."
On whether he thought Auburn would score enough to beat the Aggies:
"We're learning about our team every week. They answered this test. We feel like we've improved -- even last week when we played a I-AA opponent, but we improved I felt like. So we were curious how we're going to respond on the road. (We were) better than we were against LSU and I'm very proud."
On Auburn's last offensive possession:
"In the fourth quarter we started going four-wide and kind of spread them out. When we were going to heavy sets, they were taking chances right there. When we got them spread out, we let Nick read it a couple of times. After we got a first down, we just started pace-running it and they were tired and it's what we wanted to do."
On Tre Mason:
"He's a tough guy. He's an extremely tough guy. He was a little banged up coming into the game and he really rose to the occasion, and I thought the offensive line did, too."
On whether he thought Texas A&M had too much time to work with on its final drive:
"Hey, you know, it was a challenge for our defense and they found a way to get it done. Their quarterback is unbelievable, but they've got great receivers, their offensive line is good, they've got great running backs. They're a good team — they're a top-10 team and our guys found a way to win."
On the progression of the defensive line:
"They've gotten better each week and the great thing is we play a lot of guys. I think that really made a big difference in the fourth quarter. I think we were a little bit faster and they were maybe a bit slower right there. Our defensive hung in the battle. At times, we gave up yards, but crud, they're a good team."
On where Auburn ranks among Division I teams:
"I don't know. I'll let everybody else decide that. I just know we're taking it one game at a time. We've not arrived yet. We've gotten better each week. We want to continue to get better and I think we can if we stay healthy. But like I said, we'll take it one step at a time, then we'll look back at the end of the year and figure everything out."
On Nick Marshall leading game-winning drives in two SEC games this season:
"For a guy that didn't go through spring, that says a lot. Mississippi State was a big win at home. A lot of pressure. Then on the road in one of the toughest places to play in college football with the environment and Nick did a great job."
On making Texas A&M pass:
"You got to take away something. Their running backs are extremely good and when you play Dime and you put two safeties back they’re smart enough to keep running the football and coach Johnson did a good job mixing things up."
On Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans:
"You got mix it up a little bit. He’s a great player and those two have the ‘it’ factor, we knew that and he did a good job separating and made some big catches. A couple of times we had him covered and those back shoulder, that’s tough. You got to mix things up."
On Josh Holsey's injury:
"That was a tough deal. This team, we played without a lot of our guys and our guys find a way and everybody steps up and they raise their level. We’re going the right direction right now and I like our team."
On what this win means:
"I hadn’t had time to sit back and think about it other than the fact that just proud of our team. We’re going to enjoy this victory and we’re going to get ready for next week. Like I said, at the end of the year we’ll figure out where we’re at. Our guys have bought into what we’re doing. We got outstanding coaches, we’re all together.
"I’m proud of our players and how far they’ve come. What they went through to get here, just to see smiles on their face and have a sense of accomplishment ia big game on the road, just makes you feel good as a coach. Tells me where going in the right direction, like I said we’ve not arrived yet. We got a lot of areas we can improve on."
On Ryan White:
"Changed position on Thursday night, against that offense. He’s a veteran guy, he’s done a great job for us this year. He’s been a guy that hadn’t done a whole lot up to this point and his senior year he’s really coming on and proud of him."
On Auburn's improvement since last season:
"The players deserve all the credit. They’ve worked extremely hard. They bought into what we’re doing. They play together, they play for each other. We don’t have any individuals and its’ a fun group to coach right now."
On the Tigers' performance in the red zone:
"We spend a lot of time offensive and defensively in the red zone."
On the defensive line:
"I think anytime (defensive line) Coach Rodney Garner rotates them and tries to keep them fresh, We talked about we’re going to get to the fourth quarter and we’re going to be in better condition. That was kind of our plan. I think for the most part I felt like we were."
On the end of the first quarter:
"You’re on the one-inch line, it’s kind of one of those deals we felt like we had a chance. We threw one and we kind of underthrew it. Then we ran the football and we felt like we could get them in some single coverage and of course, they doubled, but still it was a really good throw by Nick.
"You’re sitting there and you get a feel for a call in the game, obviously it dint’ work out but hey we’re going to be aggressive and I think we had to be aggressive against this bunch on the road."
On forcing Texas A&M to kick two field goals:
"Our defense has done that pretty much all year; hold teams to field goals, and that’s huge."