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Malzahn on fake injuries, Pat Dye

AUBURN, Ala. -- It wasn’t an 8-1 record, No. 7 national ranking or this Saturday’s trip to Tennessee that Auburn coach Gus Malzahn led off Tuesday’s weekly press conference with.

Malzahn has Auburn back in the Top 10 after a 3-9 finish last year/Todd Van Emst photo

Instead, he quickly addressed the ongoing questions concerning backup linebacker Anthony Swain’s injury in the Arkansas game that many have called fake.

“At the time I did not see it happen, but after watching the TV copy I could see why people questioned it,” Malzahn said. “I've coached I've coached for 23 years and i've never told any player to fake an injury. I promise you this, moving forward there will be no questionable issues like that again. That's all I'm going to say about it.”

Defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said Sunday night that Swain got rolled up on the last play of the third quarter tackling Arkansas receiver Austin Tate at Auburn’s 2-yard line. Swain was helped off the field and didn’t return. Arkansas scored on the next play, the first of the fourth quarter, to cut the Tigers’ lead to 28-10.

Swain was dealing with a bruised knee at Sunday’s practice according to Johnson.

Malzahn was also asked about alleged comments by former Auburn coach Pat Dye at the Knoxville Quarterback Club Monday. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Dye said both of Auburn’s quarterbacks last season were cowards.

“Of course, I recruited all the quarterbacks here and they're nothing but champions, and I'm proud of the guys,” Malzahn said.

More from Malzahn:

On Tennessee...

Gus Malzahn press conference 11-5-13

“We're playing a very solid team. This group has been very good at home, beat a very good South Carolina team, took Georgia to overtime and had a chance to win that game. They've got some young talent and a very good coaching staff so it'll be a big challenge for us.”

On Tennessee freshman quarterback Joshua Dobbs...

“He is playing at home. He's got some experience. That will be our challenge to try to keep him off-balance. He's a very talented young man. He can throw it, he can run it. He presents a dual-threat challenge.”

On the Tennessee offensive line...

“That is one of the better offensive lines that we've played. They're a veteran group. They're big, they're physical, and I think they're very talented.”

On Tennessee playing at home...

“I know they've got a young team. You can see they're very comfortable at home. They've got a great place to play and crowd and everything that goes with that.”

On focusing on run against Tennessee...

“That's where it's got to start with us. We've got to establish the run, kind of like coach Lashlee said last week. The way the game unfolded last week was pretty unique. We didn't have a lot of snaps, but we were running the football. We got a lead. Our quarterback really didn't practice that much during the week. It was his shoulder we were a little worried about, and the run was working. But we definitely need to establish the run. Obviously you've got to be balanced. You've got to be able to take what the defense gives you.”

On running back Tre Mason...

“He's really coming on. He wanted the ball the other night. You could tell he was really explosive, he was breaking tackles. He's a veteran guy and was wanting the football and we just kept giving it to him.

“Moving forward, we'll spread the ball around. We've got two other very talented running backs, but he was hot, and that's what we go with.”

On lack of passes for quarterback Nick Marshall...

“I mean, all you can do is, especially if you've got a guy that didn't go through spring, is you've got to prepare him in practice. We've got a lot of confidence in him. He can throw the football. We feel like he's improved.

“It's just last week was so unique, the fact that he didn't practice. From a quarterback, you need reps. I'm not concerned about game reps. We're getting plenty in practice, and there will be a time that we'll need to throw the football. We know that. But we've got a lot of confidence in him.”

On Jeremy Johnson knowing full playbook...

“Jeremy was prepared to start the game. He had a great week of practice. We have a lot of confidence in him, and I was very proud of him. It's hard to come in a game and throw the football. He's done it two weeks in a row and he completed both of them. That says a lot about him. He played three plays, came out. He's got a great attitude. We've got a lot of confidence in him, and if he's called upon, we feel like he can run our entire offense.”

On Auburn gaining confidence...

“I think any time you're successful, you're going to be more confident. I really feel like this team's grounded. They've bought into taking it one game at a time. I don't hear anybody talking about anything looking forward. That's a lot of maturity from our older guys as far as leadership. They've done a very good job in that area.”

On the speed sweep...

“I think there'll be a time that'll come into play. It's all about what a defense gives you. As a playcaller, you've got to take what they give you. That's still a part of our offense. Hopefully there'll be a time this year where that'll be a little more effective. We've had some big plays in that, but certain teams take certain things away.”

On getting off to a fast start...

“The first of any game, you're trying to gather information of how they're playing you. Our guys have just done a good job of executing. That's really helped us. Any time you can put points on the board early, that gives you a lot of confidence moving forward. Hopefully we'll continue to do that.”

On Nick Marshall throwing in practice this week...

“That's what we're hoping.”

GUS MALZAHN VIDEO INTERVIEW

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