What Gus Malzahn said about Auburn’s 30-22 loss to South Carolina – AL.com

Auburn experienced a debacle in Columbia, S.C., falling to South Carolina, 30-22, on Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Tigers again staked an early lead, but inconsistency and a trio of interceptions from quarterback Bo Nix tanked the team’s chances of returning home with a win. Instead, the Gamecocks picked up their first victory over the Tigers since 1933.

Swing For The Fences with your Custom Bat!

After his team dropped to 2-2 on the season, with both losses coming on the road, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn addressed the media via Zoom. Here’s a look at what he had to say:

GUS MALZAHN

Opening statement…

“OK, alright. First of all, I’m proud of our guys for fighting until the end. You know, we didn’t handle adversity great in the third quarter and kind of got behind there and tried to play catch-up. I thought we played pretty good football in the first half. When you look at it, the statsheet, you know—as far as the statsheet, we played pretty good football, but the three turnovers, obviously, were big. They led to 21 points. In the second half we had seven penalties, and I think four led to first downs and kept them on the field, but give South Carolina credit. They played well. They had a good plan. They protected the football for the most part, but disappointing loss, but I am proud of our guys fighting until the end. Questions?”

On the offense clicking early but being inconsistent afterward…

“You know, it could be just Game 4 and not going through spring, I don’t know, but if you look at the statsheet, we wanted to be balanced, and for the most part we were. We had 209 yards rushing, 272 (passing). I thought we did very good on third downs in the first half; I think we were 1-of-5 or 6 in the second half, but you know, you got to give them credit, and we just—we didn’t, I think the turnovers were big.”

On how he would evaluate his team’s pass-rush against South Carolina…

“I thought our guys made the quarterback uncomfortable at times. We got off to a very good start defensively and some three-and-outs and got the ball back to the offense. I think, like I said, was the three turnovers leading to 21 points, and I think for the most part they were short fields; one of them was from the 8-yard line, so that made it tough on them.”

On Tank Bigsby’s performance, and if he need to get more touches…

“He ran extremely hard again this week, you know, for the third week in a row, broke tackles, ran with an attitude, so he did a really good job, another 100-yard game. I think 16 for 111, so yeah, I mean, he’ll be a factor moving forward.”

On what he saw from Bo Nix on the final drive…

“I think the big thing is our guys fought. We got the ball back, we used our timeouts, the defense got the ball back. I think we drove the field and gave the chance to try to score at the end. Our guys didn’t give up, so we’re taking that as a big-time positive and, you know, just one-play away from having a chance to go for two and tie the game. I was proud of the way our guys fought.”

On the two first-half interceptions changing momentum…

“I think you’re exactly right, Mark. I don’t think we punted in the first half. The turnovers right there were tough. But still, we were still in, I felt, in pretty good shape coming out of halftime. We got the ball coming out. We had the lead, and went down and put 3 on the board, which I thought was big.”

On what happened between Seth Williams and Bo Nix…

“That’s a good question. We’ll have to look on film. Y’all seen, they usually have a very good feel for each other. We’ll take a look at it on film. You’ve probably got to give their DB some credit too. But we’ll look at it and we need to correct it.”

On the play of the offensive line…

“I think anytime you get in a for-sure passing situation, it makes it tough on the offensive line. You talk about that group coming into this game, what were they, No. 1 in our league on third downs, 19 percent, so they’ve got some big-time pass rushers. But I thought while we were mixing in the run and and the pass, our guys did a solid job. We had five guys and kept the same five guys out there. Like I told you to begin with, I think now you’ll see that group be able to grow and be able to improve.”

On his message to Bo Nix after a three-interception game…

“You know, he’s a competitor and we just need to go back and need to improve. We’ve got to protect the football. We talked about that before we started the game. Really, we’d done what I’d say was a really good job of protecting the football up to this point. I think a couple of those, you’ve got to have the receivers on the same page. I think one or two of those probably wasn’t on the same page. I think one bounced off a guy and bounced up. We’ve got to protect the football.”

On wide receiver drops…

“We’re still, the offense like I said, they’re a work in progress. I think we’ve got a chance to be a good offense, I really do, and I saw some good things. We’ve got to correct the drops, there’s no doubt with that. The turnovers, like we talked about, that was really the key stat of the game. I think this offense has potential. We’ve got six games left. I did feel like we got in a rhythm at times, running the football, throwing the football. Yo look at the third downs, we were 7 of 16 overall against the No. 1 third down team. Like I said, stat sheet looks pretty good, we just didn’t get it done on the scoreboard.”

On struggles in the red zone…

“Yeah, you know, how you do that is you just keep working on it. And a lot of times, it’s just the little things, little timing things. I think we were really close on one of the fades. You know, thought it was a touchdown. The guy barely made a really good play on it. But it’s just a matter of you got to keep working it, you know, inside that 10-yard line. And that’s what we’ll do.”

On the challenge of getting a good mindset after a second loss…

“Yeah, you know, Mark, I think this is the most unique time in our, or at least one of the most unique times in all of college football history. You know, and dealing with adversity. You’ve got to man up. Your character’s got to really come out. You know, and I really believe our team will. And here’s the thing about it. We’re capable of being a good team. And even though we had the turnovers, we did some things better than we did last week. But we got to keep improving. Like I said, we’ve got six games left. We will be a team that improves. I’ll promise you that. You’ll see this team improve. That’s what we’ll be doing.”

On where the team goes now after dropping to 2-2…

“Well, I mean, you get back to Auburn, and you look at the tape. And, you know, you got to make the corrections needed. One positive, I think we got through this game pretty healthy. And we talked if we can get our guys, especially up front, the same guys healthy and get some continuity, that will improve. And we will improve. And you know, so, we’re just going to have to be big boys, and we’re going to have to man up and put it behind us and go on to next week. And find a way to win and get that good feeling back and get some momentum.”

On South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn…

“Yeah, we knew he’s a good corner. And I think he had a good game.”

Tom Green is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Tomas_Verde.

Author: