FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn spoke with reporters following Saturday night's game against Arkansas, which saw the Tigers come out on top 35-17.
(And be sure to check out video from his postgame press conference at the bottom of this article.)
"Big win for us, No. 8. On the road, in this league, Arkansas came out and they were ready to play. They kept the ball away from us a lot in the first half. We were able to run the football, and I felt like the big play in the game was that fourth-down stop by our defense.
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On whether the win was special for him personally:
"Just to be completely honest, it’s just about getting our eighth win. You know, I’ve got a lot of friends and a lot of family (here). This is a special place, but you separate that. You’ve got a job to do and I’m just very proud of our team coming in here and getting a victory.
On whether he had a sense of nostalgia returning to Razorback Stadium:
"No, there’s a lot of familiar faces — a lot of friends out there — but you’ve got a job to do."
On whether he'll get to enjoy the victory:
"And I knew that, there’s no doubt. We will enjoy this victory, because they’re hard to come by. Arkansas had a week to prepare. They’re a solid team and it was a tough victory. Very happy for our team."
On whether this was the team's most efficient offensive performance of the year:
"Yeah, they definitely controlled the ball and kept it away from our offense. That was tough. We were a little impatient there, but we were able to run the football. Our mind-set coming in this thing was, we felt like we had to run the football. I think we only threw it nine times, and for the most part we were very successful."
On running back Tre Mason:
"Tre has established himself as one of the top running backs in our league. He’s a tough guy. He’s durable — he’s been a little banged up, but he’s getting a little healthier. Our offensive line did a good job, too."
On Nick Marshall:
"Nick is one tough customer. We didn't know, really, he was going to play. We felt like he had chance on Thursday, but we really didn't know for sure he was going to start until we got here, saw him throw in the pregame and all that. ... I think his toughness carried over to our team, especially offensively."
On the belief of the team:
"I’m just proud of the guys. They play together. They do what the coaches ask. They play for each other and they’re finding ways to win.
On Arkansas’ swinging-gate play:
"It was pretty good. I almost called timeout and I was kind of kicking myself that I didn't call it before. It was a well-executed play."
On whether he thought it was ironic:
"No, you try to win any way you can. That was a good play by them."
On Anthony Swain's injury:
"I don't have any. He got hurt and we went and got him. That's all I know."
On whether Swain was faking his injury:
"No. We don't tell our kids to fake."
On his pregame meeting with Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema:
"He was real nice. We just talked briefly. Like I said before, I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s an excellent coach and he’s taking over a program and they’re going to get better. He’ll get this thing going."
On the emotion of Saturday's game:
"It kind of got interesting there when they scored that touchdown right at the first of the fourth quarter. The momentum swung to their side and our guys got into it. So our guys got excited, too, and I thought that was a really good sign."
On Nick Marshall's 88-yard touchdown pass to Sammie Coates:
"What we did is that we saw they were one-on-one with no help over the top and we just gave him a chance right there. It was a really good throw and he made a good adjustment. That was one of the big plays of the game."
On Javiere Mitchell:
"He did a great job. They tried that (onside kick) — I think they had three kickers, maybe it was just two — but it was an unusual set right there and he did a very good job. I think that led to a touchdown, so that was a big play in the game."
On whether he met with friends after arriving on Friday:
" Really I just tried to keep the same routine, so I didn’t get into seeing friends and all that. This was a business trip. We’ll have time to come back in the offseason."
On Mason's final touchdown:
"That was a 'smoke draw,' one of (offensive line coach) J.B. Grimes' favorite plays. We were saying, 'Hey, should we throw it? Should we do this?' And we just decided, 'Hey, let's at least get three points out of it and not turn the ball over.' And then we run the draw out the back side and Tre made a really good run."
On whether Sammie Coates has developed into the team's lead receiver:
"He's getting there. He's getting more confidence. And what I like about our receivers it that we threw the ball nine times and I didn't hear any griping, any complaining. They blocked and they blocked well."
On his assistant coaches' feelings on making a return to Arkansas:
"That’d be a good question to probably ask them, but I just know that locker room is very excited to get win No. 8 and get that one behind us.
On finding extra tickets for the game:
"Kristi (Malzahn, his wife) deals with all that, but I know there was a lot."
On whether Mason is the team's go-to back:
"I think so. He’s starting to establish himself as a guy that we need to get the ball to and then he can make things happen. He’s very tough and durable and getting a lot of hard yards. And he protects the football. I think that was the big thing tonight. We talked about protecting the football — I know we put the one on the ground that Nick got back — but I thought that was a big point in the game."
On whether Saturday was the best performance of Mason's career:
"He’s had a couple this year, but this was big. We put it on his back, there’s no doubt. It was a big performance."
On the offensive game plan
"There's something to be said if you don't know if your quarterback is going to play. There was a lot of stress that went into that. Jeremy (Johnson) had a really good week and we were ready to go with Jeremy. Then Nick on Thursday, we started giving him more reps and we felt like he may have a chance. He's a tough guy. I'll tell you right now, Nick Marshall is a tough guy and we're very proud of him."
On being 8-1:
"We feel very blessed to be 8-1. I’m proud of this team. I think we’ve come a long way, but we need to keep improving."
On whether he thought Auburn would be this successful in 2013:
"We talked about getting our edge back and taking care of ourself and we talked about improving each week. If we did that, we’d see where it went. But we didn’t set any expectations. We’re taking everything week-by-week and that’s not going to change."
On whether Auburn has played its best game yet:
"No, we’re still making mistakes. We’re still a work-in progress in some areas. We’ve gotten better in other areas, but we’ve got room to improve. We can play better, I believe."
On the team's injuries:
"We're getting to a point in this time of year where we're thin already. That definitely scares you. We were banged up coming in here and I think we're still banged up. We don't have a whole lot of depth in some areas and that's kind of scary."