‘A measuring stick’

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn has learned a lot about his team over the first six games. He’s seen a steady improvement in many areas and he’s seen his team fight back after falling behind at LSU.

Malzahn will lead No. 24 Auburn against No. 7 Texas A&M this Saturday/Todd Van Emst photo

This Saturday, will be an opportunity to see exactly where No. 24 Auburn stands among the top teams in the country when it plays at No. 7 Texas A&M.

“It's a huge game for us this year,” Malzahn said. “It's a completely different deal than it was last year. It's a big one. Our guys are going to be extremely excited to play this one. It's a huge challenge for us.

“It's another measuring stick for our program and where we're at this year.”

While Malzahn doesn’t want to focus on last season, the game will also be a good test for how far the Tigers have come from 2010’s 3-9 record, which included a 63-21 loss to the Aggies.

“A lot of people didn't believe in Auburn and all of our players stayed true,” Mason said. “We believed and we bought in to coach Malzahn and his message. When he said we're going to have to the biggest turnaround in college football, we bought in and we're going to continue to do that.”

Auburn fell behind 21-0 early in the second quarter at LSU Sept. 21 but fought back with 333 yards and 21 points in the second half, eventually losing 35-21.

“The fact that we've played a very good team on the road, we learned a lot about our team that night,” Malzahn said. “So I've got to believe that we'll handle ourself better than the first time, which we'll definitely need to, to have a chance.”

More from Malzahn:

Gus Malzahn press conference 10-15-13

On concerns of Nick Marshall being rusty...

“He was locked in during practice last week. He practiced Sunday and looked good. Got another week of practice. We're past the midway point. If it was early in the season, I'd be concerned but not too concerned now.”

On if Marshall will start against Texas A&M...

"Yes."

On how Marshall looks...

“All I can go by is Sunday. He looked pretty good. We didn't go crazy. We had a 12-period practice. But he looked pretty good so hopefully another day of rest and he'll be looking good today.”

On Jeremy Johnson’s play against WCU...

“Jeremy did a good job for the first time ever being on a college field in front of a lot of people. We thought he did a really good job. We had the one turnover, but he's the type that he's a very intelligent player. I think he'll have a chance to improve.”

On how Johnson will be used this week...

“We don't want to give all our secrets away but he will be used from game to game. We'll try to have different packages or any way to help us be successful.”

On if CB Jonathan Jones will return this season...

“We're hoping so. That's still a little bit up in the air. We're hoping he can be back on the field quick. He's an outstanding player and when he gets out there you can really see that.”

On the status of LB Justin Garrett...

“Same thing. Week to week.”

On if Montravius Adams and C.J. Uzomah will practice Tuesday...

“I believe they'll practice today.”

On the status of suspended players Patrick Miller and Brandon Fulse...

“Nothing's changed as of right now, but we'll see how that goes.”

On the possibility of slowing down the offense against Texas A&M...

“You've got to really see how the game unfolds, and each game unfolds differently. Sometimes you may need to try to keep it away from them, sometimes you may need to go a little faster. Whatever your advantage is, it's what you need to do.

“The more you keep your guy on the sidelines, obviously that helps your team. And we understand that. But at the same time, we're pretty good at certain things. We've got to have that balance, and we'll see how the game unfolds.”

GUS MALZAHN VIDEO INTERVIEW

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