Auburn and LSU are always familiar with each other when the programs get together for their annual showdown.
The teams will have even more information about each other for Saturday’s game at Jordan-Hare Stadium than in previous years thanks to members of last year’s coaching staff from both programs swapping sides.
Former Auburn wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig accepted the same role with LSU shortly after signing day in February while Kevin Steele spent last season as Les Miles’ defensive coordinator.
Steele was among the members of Auburn’s coaching staff this week that downplayed the added familiarity having any impact this weekend.
“I've got a couple of more times of experience with it than most,” Steele said. “I've done it before and quite frankly, it really has very little affect on it.”
Coach Gus Malzahn echoed those thoughts discussing Craig’s presence on opposing sideline.
“I coached against Rhett (Lashlee) and coached against Kodi (Burns) when they were on other staffs, too, so you’ve just got to be aware that they know certain things and you’ve got to do everything you can to help your team be successful,” Malzhan said.
Malzahn still hasn’t referenced Craig by name since the coach left his staff.
LSU is putting up signs over the football building referencing its loss at Jordan-Hare Stadium two years.
Auburn isn’t taking a similar tactic in drawing motivation from its own embarrassing loss at Death Valley last year, which featured a 228-yard and three- touchdown performance from running back Leonard Fournette.
Malzahn said the defense wants to “redeem themselves” but downplayed it being motivation for the group going into Saturday night’s game.
“We're a different team and a different defense than we were last year,” Malzahn said.
Steele compared preparing for LSU’s pro style offense this week to the time he spent at Nebraska years ago getting ready for the wishbone ahead of a matchup against Oklahoma.
“It’s like okay put everything you know now to the side because we have to have this game plan,” Steele said. “It’s almost that different.”
With the proliferation of spread offenses across the country, defenses get very few in-season reps against LSU’s more traditional scheme.
“I never thought I’d stand before a group in the third week of the season and well, we have a little adjustment to make, we’ve got to go out there get lined up against I-Pro and I-slot.” Steele said. “That’s where the game is. We have worked on it in the spring and we’ve worked on it in fall camp.”
Steele sneaks in reps as often as he can, but would have liked to sneak a few more coming into this week.
“Have we had enough work on it? Not enough to suit me. We got to get it done this week.”
Third time is the charm?
Coach Gus Malzahn considered giving John Franklin III a chance, but after reviewing the film is standing by Sean White.
“We feel like he gives us the best chance of winning,” Malzahn said. “We have to be better around him and we have to put him in better situations from a coach’s standpoint.”
White is 45 of 71 for 510 yards with three touchdowns to one interception. He’s run the ball 22 times for 56 yards.
Man of Steele — Byron Cowart’s production hasn’t made a noticeable jump this season stats-wise, but he played “significant snaps” in crunch time against Texas A&M and that will continue…Carlton Davis is living up to the coaching staff’s expectations at taking away the opposing offense’s best player… the hit Javaris Davis laid on Texas A&M Christian Kirk wasn’t a fluke with Steele describing the 5-foot-10 defensive back as someone who isn’t a “guy who shies away from contact.”
Lashing out — Freshman quarterback Woody Barrett hasn’t been relegated to the scout team and is “getting work” with the offense…Lashlee sees the offense slowing down for backup quarterback John Franklin III, who is getting all the reps with the second team offense…the offensive coordinator reiterated what coach Gus Malzahn said earlier in the week about not putting the blame on the offensive line or Sean White for the group’s struggles against Texas A&M
Quote of the week
“I have been at Auburn for seven years now and I have experienced some very good times, with a few rough times. The last two losses, I can honestly say, have probably hurt me worse than any of the others. I fully understand that our fan base is disappointed and they should be. The bottom line is that we have to coach our players better and that starts with me.” Coach Gus Malzahn
LSU 19, Auburn 16