Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Malzahn says offense ready for opener

AUBURN - Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn met with the media following Tuesday night's practice. Here's what he had to say:

How is the offense heading into the opening game?

“It’s been good since we narrowed some things down, started game planning, started getting specific about personnel on certain plays, certain personnel groups. So it has been good."

How much does it help to get the depth chart out there?

“We’ve pretty much known for a awhile about a certain depth chart, but we’re very specific with personnel by formations and things like that. Anytime you start preparing for the first game and narrowing things down it definitely helps. The unique thing about a first game is you’ve got to be ready to make adjustments because you think you have an idea of what you’re going to get, but until you actually get there, usually well into the first quarter, you’ve got to be able to adjust too.”

Talk about Tre Mason as the third tailback

“Well, he made some plays with the ball in his hands early on. Showed that he does have some speed and can make people miss in open spaces. He’s been fairly tough too, for a true freshman. He’ll have a chance to help us this year.”

In an 80-play game, how many times might he tote it?

“Well, he’s behind Michael Dyer and Onterrio McCalebb and those two will definitely get their carries, so it’s hard to say.”

Would you like to see the carries between Dyer and Mccalebb carries even out?

“Well, it just depends on what the defense is giving us and what week it is. The thing about McCalebb, we’ve tried to make him more of an every down back and he has gotten better in every aspect and he’s a veteran guy. He’s got two years under his belt. At the same time, we’re going to ask Mike to do some more things too.”

Those are two of the more veteran guys on the offense. How comfortable are you going into the season with those two backs?

“I think as the offensive coordinator you’re comfiortable with the guys you have information on, that you know how they’re going to react, whether good, bad or inbetween. Those two running backs, Philip Lutzenkirchen, Brandon Moseley, those type guys we know what we’re going to get. So that’s the comfort. The anxiety you have as offensive coordinator is we think we have an idea about the other guys but until you get into those certain situations to know how they’re going to react, that’s the question that’s going through my mind right now.”

How are the running backs coming along as receivers? Progress?

“I think Onterio did, and Michael Dyer, we made a conscious effort in the spring to get better at throwing him the football too. Tre Mason has good hands and then you can throw Gully (Morgan) in there. He catches the football too.”

Tough to watch A.J. Greene with the ankle?

“He’s not 100 percent but you see him getting better and better. He’s going to be a factor. There’s no doubt. We’re going to need his help before the year is out. He’s got three games starting experience too and we felt like he played well in those three games. So he’s one of those guys who is right there. If needed he can be called upon.”

How is Barrett handling game week?

“Well, the first day, I think he handled it very well. He was very attentive. Barrett is a very attentive person anyway. He doesn’t change much, doesn’t get too high or too low. He’s just trying to prepare himself for every situation, asking the questions, watching extra film, which is very comforting for me.”

How do you get young guys ready or do they just have to experience it?

“Yeah, they have to buckle up. They just have to get it done. We recruited those guys and we told them we were willing to play true freshmen, and those guys have to be ready. We’re going to throw them in there and see what happens and we’ll stick with the ones that have the right attitude and handle the right situations and try to get better. They have to be ready.”

Is the excitement level high for you?

“I’m curious how some of them are going to react, there’s no doubt.”

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