AUBURN - Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn doesn't see a breather. He sees an opportunity. He doesn't see a Sunbelt Conference team. He sees a team that plays some defenses he doesn't often see.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn
Louisiana-Monroe, Malzahn insisted Tuesday, will require No. 11 Auburn's best effort.
"They fly around," Malzahn said. "They have a lot of speed. They do a lot of unconventional things. We have to do a good job with our assignments and execution, because they can give you fits. You look at the way they played Arkansas in the first half. We have to be on our A game. We have to be ready to play."
Malzahn said that's why the Tigers' practice on Tuesay was just as physical and intense as it was a week earlier.
When the Auburn offense amassed 492 yards, including 334 on the ground, in last Saturday's 35-27 win over South Carolina, Malzahn saw a lot to like.. He saw the line heed coach Gene Chizik's call to be more physical. He saw quarterback Cam Newton put on such a show that he was mentioned in Heisman Trophy speculation.
It all started, Malzahn said, with the running game.
"That was really good to see," Malzahn said. "We challenged the offensive line, and they really stepped up. They got a good push, and (Philip) Lutzenkirchen was with that, too. He did a great job on the edge. Michael Dyer hit some really good seams downhill.
"... We are a run-play action team. We have to run the ball effectively. I think we took a step forward. There are areas we have to improve in, there’s no doubt. But we were able to run the football effectively."
More from Malzahn:
On Newton's physical running:
"There are situations where we need to slide or run out of bounds and there are situations where we need to score or get a huge first down. He’s looking people up right now. We have to be better decision-makers in certain situations. I’d rather tell him 'whoa' than having guys run out of bounds on their own all the time."
On Lutzenkirechen's performance
"He’s really coming on. He did a good job, and not just blocking. He made some good catches also. It’s a key, a big key, that you can put your hand down and move around and catch the ball, too."
On Brandon Mosley's first start at right tackle
"The thing about Brandon, he is a tough guy. He kind of has that Auburn toughness to him. ... He played right tacklet here for a while, then left tackle and back to right tackle. He won the job, I guess, on Tuesday. They do a lot of things with odd fronts and even fronts and moving back and forth. We felt like he really came on and did a solid job for us."
On playing at hyper speed in the second half
Malzahn said he wants to see more of the rapid-fire offense he saw against South Carolina, particularly in the second half.
"That's what it's supposed to look like. We were fortunate enough to get some first downs, and that helped us."