AUBURN – Auburn has run the ball almost 70 percent of the time through eight games, and quarterback Cam Newton has already broken the Southeastern Conference record for rushing yards by a quarterback,. But offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn said Tuesday he hasn’t lost interest in the pass.
Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn
“We could throw it a lot more,” Malzahn said. “There’s no doubt. Our receivers, we have a lot of confidence in those guys. We have a lot of confidence in Cam throwing the football. It’s just a matter of when you are running it effectively you’d like to keep running it. There will be a game when we have to pass. That’s why we work on the pass all the time.”
So far, the Tigers have been overwhelmingly effective on the ground. They rushed for 440 yards in last Saturday’s 24-21 victory over LSU, a school record for an SEC game and the most ever given up by LSU. They have broken the 300-yard barrier in four consecutive SEC games, a school first.
SHORTS AND SHOULDER PADS: For the first time since the third week of the season, the Tigers didn’t practice in full gear Tuesday in preparation for Saturday’s game at Ole Miss. They practiced in shells – helmets, shorts and shoulder pads.
“We haven’t had an off week,” Malzahn said. “Last week was a very physical game. We’re going to have another physical game. We still got after it pretty good.”
Malzahn said it was a good day’s work.
“Practice went well,” he said. “I thought our guys had pretty good focus. We were moving around pretty well.”
FEELING BETTER: Senior end Antoine Carter said the Tiger defense will go to Oxford feeling better about itself after holding LSU to 243 yards total offense and three second-half first downs in last Saturday’s 24-17 victory.
“It built us up a lot,” Carter said. “We know we can do it. The question was when are we going to do it? How consistent can we be with it?”
CAMPUS HERO: After leaving Florida and spending last season in virtual exile at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, Newton might be the best-known college football player in the country today. And he’s certainly the best known Auburn student.
“It’s a great feeling, honestly,” Newton said. “I can remember a time when I was going on campus and people weren’t looking at me like they are now. That’s a blessing. You feel the love of everyone, whether it’s taking a picture or someone saying ‘War Eagle.’ I really like this campus. There is more to it than football. It’s something very special.”
NEWTON ON BEING NO. 1: Newton said there’s no reason for the Tigers to get overly excited about being No. 1 in the BCS standings, at least not yet.
“It doesn’t matter after Week 8,” Newton said. “There is only one week that really matters, and that’s at the end of the year. We have to take it like every other week and have an excellent week of practice.”
DETERMINED SENIORS: For almost two dozen Auburn seniors, the wait has been long. They find themselves on the top of their world, and they say they won’t be caught looking the other way at Ole Miss or in any other game.
“The leaders understand where we are and where we came from, but they also understand where we’re trying to go,” senior guard Byron Isom said. “That’s where the senior leadership really comes into play. That’s going to be a big reason we stay focused and stay on track this week.”
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