Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Malzahn discusses offensive woes

AUBURN - Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn talked with the media following Tuesday night's practice and discussed the Tigers' recent problems in the passing game, as well as a variety of other subjects.

Here's what he had to say:

“I felt like we had a solid practice. The guys came out wanting to practice. Solid job of attention. We’ve got our work cut out for us. We put in our plan today. You could tell they were really eager to see what the plan was and to execute practice.”

When you look at Florida do you see a lot of good athletes on defense?

“Yeah, they have good athletes. I think they are extremely talented up front. Their linebackers can really run. Their secondary, they fly around back there too. But they are big and athletic up front and they present a lot of challenges.”

Are they comparable to South Carolina’s front?

“They’re very talented like South Carolina’s front but they’re different. They’re a different kind of talented. They’re big, they’re athletic. They really play the run well.”

Coach Chizik made it clear Barrett Trotter remains No. 1. Your thoughts on the
evaluation process.

“Well, just like any other game, we’re going to go with the guy who gives us the best chance of winning. We feel like Barrett does that. And really, we’ve got to get better around him. We’ve got to get better around him in all areas. There are some throws obviously he’d like to have back but he’s striving to improve. We’re going this week like we would any other week.”

Thoughts of giving Clint (Moseley) a shot?

“Well, like I said, we’re going into this exactly like the weeks before and we expect Barrett to play well.”

How did Kiehl Fraziewr play?

“He did a good job running the football. He did a good job of operating and communication. It was extremely loud. Obviously, those two balls he’d like to have back. He’s a competitor. He was extremely disappointed and he’s the type that doesn’t make the same mistake twice and just the speed of secondaries, it takes a while to get used to that. He’ll improve in that area.”

Do you see him continuing to have that many snaps?

“Well, with the team we’ve got now he’s definitely … he’ll have his role each week. Some weeks will be more than others. But we’re working hard to expand that.”
When you’re struggling in the passing game, how does it affect your play-calling?
“You’ve got to adjust. You’ve got to adjust to what gives you the best chance to be successful and scoring points. You’ve got to try and do the things you’re good at, and at the same time when they dare you to pass you’ve got to be able to execute when they do that. That’s what we’ve got to get better at. I think everybody saw that Saturday and we’re working very hard to do that. We’re going to continue to work hard and I really expect us to get better in that area.”

In the last two games, 17 times you’ve been on the opponents’ end of the field and gotten four touchdowns and one field goal. Why have you struggled?

“Well if you look back, I think there are some penalties and there are some turnovers. Which is really uncharacteristic of our offense. So we’ve got to do a better job of holding onto the ball. We’ve got to do a better job of not having penalties and finding a way to get the ball into the end zone. That’s the bottom line and that’s what we’re working hard to do.”

When you try to control the clock, is that a conscious effort to help the defense?

“Well, I think no matter whether it’s offense, defense or special teams, you know your team and you know what it takes for your team to be successful. Right now, we have to try and win the time of possession. We need to run the football and that’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to try and improve in that area each week also.”

Does it affect play calls on first and second down?

“No, the bottom line is we’ve got to get that initial first down. By whatever means that is, we’ve got to get that initial first own and our strength right now is running the football. We’ve got to continue to get better in that area, keep improving and keep getting first downs.”

Is there a Catch 22 on running and getting in a rhythm throwing?

“I think it’s a combination of both. When we do throw it, we’ve got to be effective at it. Like any year, you try to figure out what your strengths are and you try to build around the strengths. So that’s what we’re doing. We’re trying to get better in the areas where we’re deficient.”

You’ve talked about not playing two quarterbacks. Do you still view Kiehl as just a Wildcat or is this a two-quarterback system?

“Well, I wouldn’t say it’s a two quarterback system, but his role is expanding each week and we’re just trying to give ourselves the best chance of being successful with the pieces of the puzzle we have. But his role will expand, but I’m not ready to say two-quarterback system yet.”

Is Kiehl No. 2

“No. Clint Moseley is No. 2.”

Is there a reason for all the interceptions?

“There are a lot of different areas. It’s not just one thing. It’s not just the quarterback, it’s not just a receiver. It has been different things and each one of those things and breakdowns. The bottom line is we can’t turn the football over, especially in the red zone and we’ve done that and that’s got to be corrected.”

Talk about third down problems.

“Yes, we’ve been poor. There’s no doubt. We’re not very good on third down throwing the football and we’ve got to find a way to get better.”

Is it difficult to remind Clint he’s No. 2 when he’s not first off the bench?

“No, I don’t think so. He gets the No. 2 reps with our main offense and he gets probably 30 percent of the reps. He knows that. Very clear.”

Clint only got one throw.

“We were hoping to have a little bit more, but we were wanting him to have a chance to get in the game and all that kind of stuff.”

Are you confident in Clint?

“I feel confident in all three of our guys.”

Anything you guys can do to get the confidence of the receivers back up?

“Well, we’ve got to do a better job of throwing. We’ve got to do a better job of catching and protecting. It all works together. I know at certain times when things aren’t successful one person gets blamed, but it’s a culmination of a lot of different factors. And how you get confidence is you make plays. You make the plays and you get confidence. We’ve got to make more plays.”

Any changes in the receiver rotation this week?

“Each position we’re looking at, but we’re expecting the same guys to be out there. You may see some young guys out there at different times, but our receiver group as a whole, they will all play.”

How much does it hurt not having Emory Blake?

“Well, Emory is one of our better players. Emory is one of the better receivers in the SEC, so anytime you’ve got a guy like that it is a big blow, but at the same time we’ve got a week of practice to prepare to not having him. We’ve got to do a better job of replacing him. We’ve got some young guys and it’s just a matter of the light to click on and them to get confidence to make plays. It’s not just that thing, it’s throwing, it’s catching.”

Was it a good practice?

“They seemed like they were eager at practice today."

Can you still be a good offense? Or a grinder?

"We're a work in progress. We're trying to build around our strengths.
The bottom line is that we have moved the football. When we've gotten
in the red zone, we're not getting in the end zone. We're capable of
being better. We're capable of scoring more points. We've identified
our deficiencies and we're trying to build on our strengths."

Why is the running game working early but not as well later?

“A lot of times defenses roll an extra guy or two down and dare you to
throw it. You have to be able to do them both effectively. You've got
to have an answer. You've got to be able to execute. We're working on

On the ESPN special you said Kiehl was the most talented you have ever coached?

“He's still learning the offense. He's still … there's a lot to it. There's a whole lot to it. If he went through spring, maybe things would be different. He's not ready to be the full-time quarterback.”

A lot of area high schools are running your offense. What do you think of that?

“There's a lot of great high school coaches around here. I've been fortunate
enough to meet a lot of them. We talk football. but … there's a lot of guys who can run an offense without running ours who are successful. We have great relationships with a lot of them.”

What’s the confidence like with the receivers?

“The way you get confidence is to play well. We're working hard to do that. We're very up front and honest with our guys. We can play better. We're deficient in some areas. We can play better than what we've done. The bottom line is turning the football over. That's unacceptable. The penalties - those two areas are unacceptable. That's my focus.”

Does this offense operates like teams from before?

“There's certain teams I've had that have run the football more than they've thrown the football. In the past, there's been a team or two that's similar to this.”

Specific team?

“No, it's probably Springdale High School.”

Kiehl apologized for his performance.

“He's a winner. He's got winner in him; that's how he is. He has high
expectations. He's not used to losing. He feels like he let his team
down. That'll help him in the future to be the type of quarterback we
want him to be.”

Was Barrett's performance a disaster?

“There were quite a few drops. There was a protection breakdown or two. To blame him for all that when you look at everything, it's a culmination of a lot of different areas. He did some good

How did he grade out?

“He graded out average.”

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