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Heartbreaking loss puts Auburn coaches on alert for second half letdown

Michael Niziolek

mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn sees the similarities between Saturday’s 54-46 four overtime loss to Arkansas, and last year’s 41-38 to Texas A&M.

He wants to make sure those comparisons don’t go any further.

“The fact that we had a similar situation last year and it did affect us, there was some carryover,” Malzahn said. “And I think we can learn from things, and that's what we're going to do. It starts with our leaders. It starts with our coaches. We've got to put that behind us. You can flip the film on and Ole Miss will get your attention in all three phases. That will definitely help.”

Last year, the Tigers went into a tailspin following the loss to the Aggies in 2014, dropping three of four to close out the season with their only victory coming against FCS Samford.

Auburn came back from a three-touchdown deficit against Texas A&M thanks to three second half scores from quarterback Nick Marshall. The Tigers had the ball late in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie, or take the lead, but fumbled their comeback hopes away.

The sting from the Arkansas loss might be worse as Auburn was a fourth-down stop away from winning on two separate occasions in overtime in game it feel behind 14-0 in the first half.

Malzahn is aware of the potential for emotions from this week’s loss to linger, and has talked to his coaches and players about avoiding another letdown.

“We’ve got to do a better job of recovering from that game…” Malzahn said. “Our coaches are aware of that. Our players, we were very up front with them. That’s going to be the key to this week. I feel good about where we’re at from a player standpoint and a coach’s standpoint as far as that’s concerned.”

Malzahn said he personally needs to do a “better job” of getting his team refocused.

Outside of addressing the issue with the team, he declined to outline what he specifically plans to do differently than last year, but was adamant his approach would change.

“There’s nothing we can do about it now, we got to move forward and look forward,” Malzahn said. “Those kids responded and they’re ready to hit the practice field. I know our coaches are too. That’s part of it. Like we said, we got to get better and we’re committed to doing that.”

Michael Niziolek covers Auburn football for the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Email him at mniziolek@ledger-enquirer.com or follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Google+

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