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Defense dominates in Auburn's spring football game

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Head Coach Gus Malzahn

Opening statement...

“I would like to start by thanking the fans for coming out. The forecast was miserable, it was raining all day until the kickoff and we appreciate those guys for coming out. I thought it was a good day overall. What really stood out to me was our defense. They played extremely well and our second defense played well, too. They have done that all spring. Anders Carlson, our kicker, has done that all spring too. It’s been encouraging to see him out there kicking the way he did in front of a crowd. Tailback-wise, our plan was to rotate those guys, especially the young guys to see what they can do. They held on to the football and you can see those young guys have a lot of ability breaking some tackles. Our quarterbacks, it was good to see them out there in front of a crowd. Malik missed a couple of ones over the top but he played against one of the best defenses in college football so in the long run that will only make him better. Overall, it was a good game on both sides of the football and they had fun playing in front of our home crowd.”

On some of the biggest concerns during spring...

“We have one more practice during spring but first of all here’s what I feel good about. I feel great about our defense. They just carried it over from last year. And I feel good about our offensive line. You saw those guys getting better and better and start working together. Running back-wise, we are going to have some depth, there is no doubt about that. Receiver-wise, Ryan Davis did not go today, we held him out by design. We know what we are going to get from him so he did not go. Overall, I feel good about where we are at right now. We are battling some injuries but I think it has been successful at this point.”

On Kam Martin…

“He had a little tweak on his hamstring. He was going to see if he could go in pregame but he told me he was not 100 percent. We know what we are getting from Kam and he has been great this spring. I know coach Horton was planning on getting the majority of the plays to the young guys anyway.”

On Malik Willis…

“Like I said, I think he missed a couple of passes over the top and the fumble is something that really stood out for me. You got to always protect the football, but I think he has had a solid spring.”

C.J. Tolbert, RB, Offensive MVP

On Gus talking about him starting this fall…

“It means a lot coming from the head coach. The person you want to have the most trust from on this team is the head coach so that means a lot coming from him.”

On improvement…

“We always have a lot to improve on. You never can get too up or too relaxed on yourself. I feel like we had a pretty good spring in all areas of the offense but we also have a lot to improve on.”

On competition of talented backs…

“That’s a huge motivation. You know every day you can’t go out and just have an okay practice. You have to compete every day. I feel like that sparks me every day. I have four other guys that could beat me out at any given time.”

On play today…

“I feel pretty good about it. I have a lot to improve on. I made a couple of mistakes but I feel pretty good overall.”

On being offensive MVP today…

“Blessed. Thank God for the opportunity to be here and to be at a great university.”

On long run today…

“The offensive linemen and receivers set it up perfectly. Coach [Malzahn] always talked about being patient and I let them get on the blocks and off to the races.”

On Coach [Tim] Horton…

“He tells us to never get too high or too low. He tells us every single day that there are five backs that could compete and play and start versus Washington. He tells us that every day. He never tells us that you’re not in the mix. You have to come out and compete every day.”

On offense versus defense…

“We have one of the best defense, if not the best defense, in the nation. Going against them makes us better every day. It will pay off in the fall. They have amazing players over there, all eleven of them. It is a big thing to have at practice every day.”

Nick Coe, DL, Defensive MVP

On the defense overall…

“Going into the summer, everyone needs to get better. We just need to keep improving until we become the best we become. We want to be the number one defense, not top five. I want us to be number one and show the nation.”

On setting personal goals…

“I always make goals every day. I set goals to make myself better, that’s my main focus. I’ve been focused on the weight room, spring ball and school right now.”

On the defense having a chip on their shoulder…

“It really comes from the coaches because when you have a chip on your shoulder, you play with aggression. You play physical, you don’t want to go out there and have regrets.”

Anders Carlson, PK, Special Teams MVP

On mindset going into the game with the wind…

“It was gusting a little bit but I was staying smooth with my holder and snapper on the sideline.”

On comfortability with young guys in a team setting…

“Personally, I feel comfortable right now but we just got to keep working every day. As a group I feel like we are ready right now.”

On playing in a game situation…

“It was good. I try to think of a practice as a real game situation. Every rep is a game rep for me but it was good to knock them down in front of the fans.”

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