Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn spoke at SEC Media Days on Thursday and touched on season expectations, the fight for the starting quarterback position and more.
AU HC Gus Malzahn has arrived for SECMD19 pic.twitter.com/5Av1tAm7rR
— Sheldon Haygood (@SheldonFox6) July 18, 2019
Malzahn started the press conference by discussing returning players and how the added experience will help Auburn bounce back from a disappointing 8-5 season. The Tigers will have eight seniors returning after considering leaving for the NFL, according to Malzahn.
In addition, the Tigers will have all five starting offensive lineman returning for the 2019 season. All five are seniors but struggled as a whole in 2018.
Auburn will also be getting back wide receivers Eli Stove and Will Hastings from injury. However, the Tigers did lose four senior linebackers.
A big test for the Tigers will come at the hands of Florida on Oct. 5 in Gainesville. Also, it will be the Gators homecoming game, and Malzahn was surprised to see that on the schedule
“We haven’t been to Florida in a long time and noticed that we’re their homecoming opponent,” Malzahn said. “We have not been too many people’s homecoming opponents in the past.”
This will be their first meeting since 2011 and their first time visiting Gainesville since 2007.
Starting Quarterback Competition
Eyes are going to be on the quarterback position going forward. Auburn has yet to select a starting quarterback for their season-opener against Oregon. Redshirt freshman Joey Gatewood and freshman Bo Nix are both competing for the starting role.
Gatewood rushed for 28 yards in the Music City Bowl against Purdue in his only game played for Auburn last season. Nix had a decorated high-school career, throwing for over 12,000 yards and 161 careers touchdowns for Pinson Valley High School before joining the Tigers.
The Hot Seat
Malzahn was asked early in the press conference about his job security and expectations after posting just eight wins in 2018. The Tigers head coach was clear that he knows that high expectations come with the territory.
Malzahn said that he expects to win championships and the Auburn football program will accept nothing less.
“Some places, eight wins they celebrate,” Malzahn said. “That’s just not part of Auburn. We’re expecting to win championships and we’ve done that. And we’re going to have more championships the the future here, too.”
The Tigers have their work cut out for them. Auburn has the fourth hardest schedule in college football and with their first game against a strong team like Oregon, they will be tested from the get-go. Auburn starts their season against Oregon on Aug. 31.