Transcript of Auburn Coach Gus Malzhan's Auburn vs. Georgia news conference provided by the Auburn University Athletics Dept.
Opening statement…"Obviously, we have a big challenge for us this weekend. We are playing what was one of the top teams in the country at the first of the year before they had injuries. They are getting healthy. They have 16 returning starters from a team that almost won the SEC Championship last year. They have one of the better quarterbacks to ever play in the SEC. It will be a huge challenge for our guys. We realize that we have to keep improving and get ready to play."
On Georgia QB Aaron Murray…"He is extremely talented. He has great experience. He has been in big games and knows how to handle pressure. It is all of the above. He is mobile enough to where he can hurt you with his feet, too."
On Nick Marshall this week…"He is familiar with them, there is no doubt. If he holds true to past experience this year, he doesn't get too high or too low. There isn't too much that rattles him. He stays pretty calm no matter what the moment."
The problems Todd Gurley presents to the defense…"He is one of the better running backs in college football. He is a big guy that can run. He is tough to tackle. He is one of the best in college football."
Marshall's progression in running the read option…"All parts of our offense -- he feels comfortable. It is becoming more natural to him where he can just play and not have to think. I think that has been critical the past two games."
How do Corey Grant and Tre Mason help prepare the defense for Gurley…"I think he is bigger than both of those backs, but the fact that we have three different-type backs, I think that helps us defensively against most opponents."
On picking up the pace of the offense…"Our pace is a big part of what we do. When we are playing fast, that is when we are at our best. Obviously, you have to get a first down before you do that. We will continue to keep that advantage. We are a little bit different than when Cam (Newton) was here. We build around the strengths of our quarterback, no matter who it is. We are a little bit different, but like I said at the beginning of the year, whether it is Chris Todd, Cam Newton or Nick Marshall, at the core of who we are, at the foundation, it doesn't change. We just build around the strengths of our quarterback."
On Auburn's offense not passing as much as Malzahn's offenses have in the past…"I am a former high school coach, and you have different players, so you have to try to adapt around that. It's just whatever you do best, you need to build around that. That's kind of what we are doing best right now."
Has he talked to Nick Marshall about handling outside pressure this week…"No, not really. We're taking it week by week as far as each game. Nick -- there is no doubt in my mind -- he'll be ready to play. Like I said earlier, he doesn't get too high or too low. He's an even-keeled guy, he's motivated and I know that he will be ready."
Did he ever come in contact with Baylor coach Art Briles…"When I was a young high school coach, he was one of those guys. He was at Stephenville, Texas, and I was trying to figure out what they were doing. They really had it going on. I think he was one of the first guys to have a video out, and I got the video and started watching some things they do. I've got a respect for him, and he's very good at what he does."
What has led to Auburn's turnaround this season…"It's all about our players coming together, putting the past behind them and becoming close, and I think developing relationships with each other and developing relationships with coaches. I think that is the start of it."
On Georgia's defense…"A lot of speed and a lot of athleticism. They're very impressive. They're very impressive in most areas, and they fly to the football, and they tackle well."
The progression a QB looks at when running the read option…"It's just his base reads, no matter if it is the zone read or read progressions in other runs or passes. He's got keys and different things that go with that."
On the read option…"Any time you've got different plays, whether it's power read or read zones, there are responsibilities that have to be done defensively. It's like anything else. You've got to execute offensively no matter what you're doing, and we understand that."
On the recruitment of Nick Marshall…"I started recruiting Nick back at Arkansas State. We did our homework on Nick when we were there, then got a chance to get him here. Coach Rodney Garner was there with him. We had all the info we needed. We're very proud of Nick as a person and as a player."
Did he rely on Coach Garner's experience with Nick for recruiting…"All of the above."
On Nick Marshall's character and ability…"Like I said, I got to know Nick recruiting him at Arkansas State as a person. We did our homework on him there. The fact that we got here with Coach Garner, who knew him well and knew the family well, all of the above had to do with that. We're proud of Nick on and off the field. He's got a lot of respect from his teammates, as well as his coaches, and he's a good person."
How has Jay Prosch progressed through the season…"I said this earlier in the year -- he's one of the better fullbacks we've had in our offense. He's every bit of that, and maybe the best. He does a lot of things that don't show in stats that make things go. He's extremely tough. He's very unselfish. He played very well on Saturday."
How familiar is Rodney Garner with Georgia's offense and defense…"He is familiar with that, but at the same time, we're playing a very talented team on both sides of the football."
The excitement of playing Georgia…"Sunday was just about like it had been the rest of the weeks. Our guys have been even-keel. They just approach it like next week. Our guys know it's a big game, but at this point in the season, just like last week, they're all big games. I think that's been one of the things that has allowed these guys to be successful. They're just taking one week at a time. The outside distractions have not bothered them. They know we've got to play well each week at this point in the season."
On emphasizing what is left to play for…"No, we have not said anything; we have not even gone there. All we have talked about is we have our hands full with Georgia, playing at home, and that is the only thing on our mind. At the end of the season, we will look back and deal with all that stuff."
On goals for the season…"Get better each practice and each game; it has not changed. I know I sound like a broken record, but that is exactly what our coaches and players have said and they have bought into it."
Playing in Jordan-Hare Stadium…"Well, I do know that we have some of the best fans in college football, and there is not a better place to play college football than right out there. We have been fortunate enough to be a part of some big games there. I know our crowd will be ready and we just need to give them something to cheer about."
On the test Georgia presents…"We have seen a little bit of everything this year. The test that they are going to give is that they are talented. They are very talented at all positions, and we are going to have to execute. They tackle well, too."
The importance of keeping Georgia from controlling the ball with the run game…"Tempo and momentum and all of that are a big part in setting the tone. That will be a big factor. Like I said, they are very good on offense and they have been good at controlling the football."
On Ellis Johnson's experience against Georgia…"Any time you are familiar, that is a good thing, but at the same time, they have a lot of talent, and they are very good at what they do. We are going to have to tackle well and we are going to have to execute well on defense also."
On Justin Garrett playing…"It is still up in the air."
On success of the run game…"The main thing is whether you run it every time, or throw it every time, if you are playing good football and you are successful and you are winning, that is really the bottom line, so it kind of goes back to building around your strengths.
"Whatever your strengths are, that is what you play to and if you are able to be successful, you keep doing it. Football is not a complicated game. A lot of people make it complicated, but you do what you are good at and right now, we are good at running the football.