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Gus Malzahn Post-Game Quotes

January 1, 2020

Outback Bowl: Auburn vs Minnesota
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Gus Malzahn
Auburn Tigers
Minnesota 31, Auburn 24

BRETT PATTERSON, GVP OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE OPERATIONS: Welcome. Certainly on behalf of the Outback Bowl, the city of Tampa, just wanted to recognize Coach Malzahn and the Auburn Tigers, for being here. Put on a fantastic game, one of the best college bowl games I've seen in a long time.

Coach Malzahn.

GUS MALZAHN: First of all, I think I need to start out by giving Minnesota and their head coach, P.J. Fleck, congratulations and credit. They're a very good football team. We knew that before we played them. After you play somebody, you have more information.

When you look at the game, we started out, I think we went up 10-0, had momentum, felt pretty good. I think we had a fumbled punt, they scored. It was tied at halftime.

Of course, the second half, it was really a dogfight back and forth. Bottom line is they made plays. They made plays to win the game when the game was on the line. You have to give them credit.

You look at it, you have to give them credit. We didn't overlook them. I think our guys were ready to play. I think our guys played hard. They made the plays we didn't.

Really appreciate our seniors. They just did an outstanding job their whole career. I'm disappointed for them that we couldn't get them out with a victory. They led us today, played extremely hard.

When I look at the game, they did a really good job of keeping the ball away from us. They stayed on the field. I know the first half, offense didn't have the ball very many plays. Of course, offense didn't make very many first downs.

When I look at the stat sheet, what stands out to me is 53 plays. They kept the ball, waited until the play clock had about five seconds or less on it. They shortened the game. They had an excellent game plan. They were able to execute.

I look at us, the third downs, 3 of 11. We've been solid all year. 53 plays, you're not going to beat very many people with that.

But I got to give them credit. I'm very disappointed that we couldn't send our seniors out. Bottom line is they outplayed us and out-coached us. They deserved to win today. That's just really the facts of the matter.

Questions.

Q. (On the balance of building for next year versus winning a bowl game.)
GUS MALZAHN: It's not a hard balance. The bottom line is your goal is to win a bowl game. When you're playing a team that won 10 games, you got to play well. We're focused on winning. I mean, when you're back home, you start getting the young guys. When you get here, you focus on winning the game.

We used the same formula we did last year. Like I said, you got to give them guys credit. They're a really good team.

Q. (On Minnesota's domination in the running game.)
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah. 215 yards rushing against our defense, that surprised me. We only had 56. That surprised me, too. They got after us up front. I mean, I just think that's the facts of the matter.

Q. (On the offense not developing a rhythm.)
GUS MALZAHN: I think that's fair to say. I think the first quarter, I don't know how many plays we had in the first quarter, I think we may have had six or seven. Somebody may have the stat sheet. It wasn't very many.

The second quarter, I don't think we had much more than that. They did a good job of staying on the field, too. Like I said, the offense, we didn't get very many first downs early to stay on the field. I think it was a combination of both. The volume of plays in the first half, it wasn't very much for us.

Q. What was your plan on offense and did you want to take shots down the field?
GUS MALZAHN: I mean, they played loose. I think everybody could see that. At the same time I think we called four or five or six shots. Couple of them we had a little protection breakdown. A couple of them we kind of under-threw, whatever.

I mean, any time you put up 232 yards offense on 53 plays, I mean, we got to do better than that. But give them credit. They had a good plan. They did a good job of trying to keep things in front, stayed away from the big play.

Q. (On what Minnesota did to stop them on offense.)
GUS MALZAHN: There was a few little wrinkles. It was more of lining up and getting after us more than anything. Just the fact of the matter.

Q. (On Minnesota double-teaming Derrick Brown.)
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I mean, Derrick Brown got double-teamed all year and tripled. He's a dynamic player. He's one of the best players in all of college football. That's what smart coaches do. I'm sure that happened again today.

Q. (On the decision to try a fake punt.)
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I liked it. It wasn't really open, but the guy had his arms around the guy when the ball is in the air. I don't know. They didn't call it. That's just part of it.

Yeah, I mean, we're trying to win the game. We're going to be aggressive. That didn't work out. If I remember right, I don't think they scored. I think we held them on fourth down as far as that goes.

We're trying to be aggressive and win the game. It could have been easily called an interference, too. We would have had a first down in field goal range.

Q. (On Outback Bowl MVP Tyler Johnson and how he compares to receivers in the SEC.)
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I mean, he's a good player. Not just him, I mean, they're a good team. They got good players. We knew that coming in. They won 10 games in their conference. Their coaches had a super game plan. They executed it. They were a physical team, too.

Q. How hard do you look at the offense in the off-season? What do you have to do in the off-season?
GUS MALZAHN: Two-year trend?

Q. Yes.
GUS MALZAHN: You're talking about this year?

Q. Yes.
GUS MALZAHN: I'd say this year I think we finished, if I remember right, third in our conference in total offense, fourth in points. It was solid.

This game we're disappointed, and we should be. But we'll rebound. Chad Morse, I'm very excited about him and his future. I feel like he's one of the best. Like I said, after this bowl game, we'll put our heads together. He's going to have great influence.

We'll get better. We didn't play our best. Like I said, you have 53 plays you're not going to be very good.

I will say this. This year I felt like we did some good things offensively. I don't think that's accurate as far as the total assumption of this year.

Q. (On Auburn struggling to find a rhythm on offense.)
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I mean, we got in some rhythm some, but then we'd have a negative play. Bottom line, our third downs, like I said, we were 3 of 11. When you don't convert third downs, everything is out of rhythm. That had a lot to do with it today.

We had a couple opportunities on third downs that I would have liked us to have executed better. I think we would have picked it up. We didn't get it done on third down, so it took away the rhythm, and it caused us to have 53 plays on offense.

Q. (On first down play calling.)
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I don't know what it was, but I think we mixed it up decent on first down. Yeah, I mean, when you have negative plays, you definitely want to stay out of that, whatever gives yourself a chance to be successful.

Q. On Tyler Johnson's 73-yard touchdown, what did you see?
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I think they had a little post. I think we kind of messed up on one of our coverages there. The guy came Scot free. Quarterback put it out in front. They were able to run the football effectively, too. When you do that, their RPO game, play-action, is more effective.

I think the big one was late in the game. They were running the ball decent. They got us over the top. Executed that play. That was the difference in the game.

Q. (On how you evaluate the season.)
GUS MALZAHN: 9-4 with the schedule we played, obviously if we won this game, I would feel completely different. There were some good things we did. We did play the toughest schedule in college football. Me personally, I don't think it's close.

I'm proud of our players, I'm proud of our seniors. But, I mean, we're disappointed right now. But there were some really good things that happened during the season that we can build upon, have a chance to be a really good football team next year.

Q. How much will this season help quarterback Bo Nix?
GUS MALZAHN: Yeah, I mean, Bo, he's going to win a championship for us before he gets out of here. Went up against the toughest schedule in football as a true freshman. He learned. He's going to be a great quarterback for us. More than that, I think he's going to be a great leader for us. Those are my expectations. I'm glad he's our quarterback. He'll have a very good clear.

Q. New Year's resolutions?
GUS MALZAHN: I mean, I'm thinking about right now. I'm just disappointed. We'll be able to take it, kind of evaluate as coaches, look at the whole year. I said there were some good things that happened. We'll turn the page for next year.

I've not gotten that far.

Q. Do you expect your entire staff to return?
GUS MALZAHN: I mean, I expect. You never know, but I expect.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports