AUBURN, AL (WSFA) - Gus Malzahn led Auburn's first game week press conference of the 2017 season ahead of the Georgia Southern game Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
His opening statement began with excitement saying it's "finally game week," but that wasn't all.
"Our players and our coaches are excited that it's finally here and playing a different opponent," Malzahn said.
When asked about Saturday's opponent Georgia Southern, the coach of the Tigers noted it wouldn't be an easy task.
"Playing a very challenging team in Georgia Southern. A team that has had success when playing bigger teams. Obviously beating Florida at Florida a couple years back, going to Georgia and going to overtime and of course last year playing Ole Miss and was beating them late in the 2nd half" Malzahn said.
Georgia Southern defeated Florida at the Swamp back in 2013, and led Ole Miss briefly 21-10 in the second quarter before losing last season's match-up 37-27.
Malzahn mentioned Georgia Southern's offense being a challenge, seeing as they run the triple-option
"That's really concerning, especially the teams that know how to do it," said Malzahn.
The first game for Auburn is about adjustments on all three phases.
This year, the starting offensive line is loaded. Malzahn weighed in on the guys in the trenches, starting with former Fever star and starting left tackle Prince Tega Wanogho.
"First of all with Prince, he's one of the better athletes we have up front. He's really improved and gotten better and has a chance to be a real special player, just lacks experience. Mike Horton obviously played last year. He's a guy that's had a good spring and good fall. Then our 5th year guys give us quality depth. We feel really good about the depth up front," said Malzahn.
The running back position on the depth chart is Kamryn Pettway OR Kerryon Johnson. Kam Martin is emerging as the number 3.
Malzahn mentioned the true freshman will get a chance to play.
Malzahn talked about Will Hastings' improvement at the receiver position saying, "He's one of the quickest guys to come through this program at least since I've been here."
The Jarrett Stidham conversation continued as the transfer is seeing his first action in a college game in 22 months.
"The reality is he's only played four college football teams. You have to keep that in mind. We've got a good plan to bring him along," Malzahn said. "He's a very talented young man and I know he's ready to get out there and see what happens too. I think he's in a really good spot right now but he's still an inexperienced guy."
As far as play calling goes, Malzahn is giving the duties to new Offensive Coordinator Chip Lindsey but the head coach will "be aware in all three phases."
The focus heading into this season is simple.
"You don't worry about what everyone else thinks. You worry about what the expectations are for us that we've set. We expect big things within this room but we don't get caught up on the outside," Malzahn said.
No major injuries or suspensions have emerged for the Tigers and they look to be full strength in their second ever meeting with the Eagles on Saturday.
"We expect everyone to play," said Malzahn.
The full depth chart was released on Tuesday: