AUBURN, Ala. (WSFA) - The No. 8 Auburn Tigers are 2-0 to begin the season and are fresh off a 24-6 win over Tulane to open up their home slate at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Now the focus shifts to Kent State, who will be Auburn’s last game before opening SEC play.
“Our message for our team is we need to keep improving and play good, clean football before we get into conference play next week. But our guys are excited and looking forward to playing a quality opponent and like I said, our message is to get better,” said head coach Gus Malzahn.
Kent State presents a challenge with a dual-quarterback system. It’s something Malzahn says his defense will have to approach carefully.
“Well, you’ve got to prepare for both. Woody Barrett is personally one of my favorites. He’s a fine young man, he was a joy to coach and to recruit. We root for him all but this one. He’s a quality person and a quality player," said Malzahn. “I think we will have a plan for each; we are prepared for both to play. That’s the way you’ve got to go about it.”
Barrett, a redshirt junior, was originally a Tiger as Malzahn said. He enrolled at Auburn out of high school and transferred to Copiah-Lincoln Community College where he threw for 1,294 yards, ran for another 485 yards and threw and rushed for a combined 14 touchdowns.
The other quarterback is Dustin Crum who threw for 192 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another score against Kennesaw State last week.
While the defense will have its hands full with two quarterbacks to prepare for, the offense will be taking on the Golden Flashes without one of its top receivers. Gus Malzahn says Seth Williams will not play Saturday. Williams was injured in Saturday’s game against Tulane, but that doesn’t rule him out for the future.
“Seth Williams will be out this week.” said Malzahn. “We do expect everybody else to play at this time. Seth, we’ll see where he’s at, like I said Sunday night, about his availability for the next week. I think it’s kind of a day-to-day deal as far as that goes.”
Anthony Schwartz saw his first action of the season against Tulane. He was targeted on some plays but didn’t record a reception. Schwartz didn’t play in the opener against Oregon after having surgery on his hand in camp. Malzahn said the speedster will see more playing time this week against Kent State.
“Schwartz is going to practice more and more each week. This week, he will be on the field more than he was last week. As far as taking the cast off, that is a week to week deal. I do not know when that will be, but hopefully sooner than later," said Malzahn. "I cannot guarantee it will be the next week either, but he will be on the field more and more each game.”
As for any concerns about the Tigers overlooking Kent State and looking ahead to Texas A&M next week, Malzahn says that’s not a problem.
“I think it is more our team -- they understand that we need to improve each week. It doesn’t matter who we are playing this week, they know we need to improve and really that’s our message. So if we are a mature team like I think we are, we will go out and play good football and improve and not look ahead,” said Malzahn. “I have not heard one of our players say anything about our next opponent, have not heard one of our coaches say anything, so we are taking this thing game by game.”
Auburn and Kent State kick things off at 6 p.m. Saturday.