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Malzahn: Auburn needs to do a better job of channeling emotions

ByJason Caldwell

6-8 minutes


AUBURN, Alabama—Along with Saturday’s play on the field on both sides of the ball for the Auburn Tigers, another issue that showed up for Coach Gus Malzahn’s football team was the amount of smack talk being done during the loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks. While there was the emotional sideline discussion between Bo Nix and Seth Williams that received plenty of attention, something that just happens from time to time when you have competitors, Malzahn said from the turnovers to the talk on the field to the penalties, it wasn’t a fun game to go back and watch.

One of the issues of the day was seemingly a loss of composure at times during the game. On at least three occasions Auburn coaches had to talk to players on the sidelines about getting their emotions under control. Malzahn said that’s not what the program is about and is something the Tigers will change moving forward.

“I think that’s very uncharacteristic for us,” the head coach said. “That will be corrected. We will do a better job of that in the future. I promise you that.

“We’ve got to really channel our emotions better, but that will definitely happen.”

As for the sideline discussion between Nix and Williams that has been played and replayed by some, Malzahn said that’s just a part of the game, but he admitted that it has to be handled better. “Of course, both of them are great competitors and got emotional,” Malzahn said. “We will do a better job of channeling that emotional energy in a positive way next time.  It’s important to both of them, but we’ll need to channel that energy in a positive way next time, and I’m sure we will.”

A contributing factor in the loss on Saturday was Auburn’s defensive penalties that led to four South Carolina first downs. Helping the Gamecocks to keep drives alive was something that once again hurt the Tigers on third down and allowed them to take precious time off the clock in the second half with the lead.

Starting in the second quarter, Auburn got a pass interference penalty on a third and 14 that kept a drive alive that would eventually end with a punt to the two-yard line. That forced the Tigers to come off their own goal line, a drive that would end on the first Nix interception on a third and 11.

On the drive that put South Carolina ahead 20-19, a 15-yard facemask penalty helped the Gamecocks on the way to the touchdown. Another pass interference on the next possession kept a South Carolina drive alive that would eventually end in Owen Pappoe’s interception. A final pass interference late in the fourth quarter allowed the Gamecocks to run an additional four minutes and 24 seconds off the clock and eventually move from their own 38 to the Auburn 44 before punting the final time.

The penalties were extremely costly and something Malzahn noted have to be corrected. “We can’t beat ourselves,” Malzahn said. “We have to protect the football, which really we’ve done a good job of up to this point. That was uncharacteristic of us and the penalties. I have always said that penalties are coaching and that starts with me. We’re going to do a better job in that area. We kept too many drives alive.”

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i think the smack talking helped cost us the game. south carolina seemed to pour it on and i believe they took us mentally out of the game.

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here is more on the subject.



Auburn focuses on correcting trash talk

By Giana Han

Auburn safety Jamien Sherwood walked up to South Carolina wide receiver Shi Smith and went facemask to facemask as he let loose, his mouth running furiously.

As the two exchanged words, Sherwood’s teammates wandered over and casually pushed them apart. The game went on. But so did the talking.

When Smith and Sherwood met again and again, the tension between them was visible. Sherwood, who finished with five total tackles, was credited with two tackles against Smith but met him multiple times at the end of plays to exchange words. The trash talk was not contained to the two of them, although Sherwood was the most visible talker.

“I think that’s very uncharacteristic of us,” coach Gus Malzahn said.

It spread across the Auburn defense with safety Smoke Monday and linebacker Cam Riley, among others, getting in the Gamecocks' faces.

It also affected the other side of the ball, as wide receivers Eli Stove, Ze’Vian Capers and Seth Williams were seen talking up a storm with the South Carolina defensive backs after both missed and made catches. Stove finished with seven catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, while Williams had four catches for 44 yards and Capers had three catches for 40 yards. While Stove, caught all his targets, Williams was stopped five times. Three of the passes meant for Williams turned into interceptions.

Williams’s and quarterback Bo Nix’s frustration at the failed plays boiled over and turned into tension within the Tigers bench. TV cameras caught the two of them mouthing off at each other as offensive coordinator Chad Morris stepped in to mediate. Williams ended up walking off the screen as Morris continued to talk to Nix.

Stove described the exchange as Williams and Nix each trying to describe to each other what they saw the South Carolina defensive backs doing. On the previous play, Nix had placed the ball slightly to Williams’s right, the same side the defender was on, rather than to Williams’s open left side.

After taking a look at what happened, Malzahn said Sunday that the exchange was a result of both players being competitive and emotional. They both want to win, which is important, but the Tigers will have to figure out how to “channel that energy in a positive way.”

Malzahn thinks it went back to that same thing for the other players, as well. They had a lot of emotions, and they weren’t able to control that in the game. The trash talk started while Auburn was in the lead, but picked up as South Carolina closed the gap and then took the lead. It was a game full of frustrating errors and penalties, and that came out in the Tigers' interactions on the field.

At one point, South Carolina defensive lineman Joseph Anderson gave Nix a hard bump with his shoulder as he ran off the field, which Nix responded to with his own shove that brought South Carolina coaches running onto the field and pointing. None of these incidents led to penalties. Still, Malzahn emphasized that that’s not characteristic of the Auburn football program, and it won’t be a characteristic of the team moving forward.

“That will be corrected,” Malzahn said. “We will do a better job of that in the future. I promise you that.”

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Yes, all the mouthing and arguing was embarrassing to watch as an Auburn Fan and I definitely never want to see it again. If you make a play you celebrate with your teammates, you don't mouth off at the opponent. We will see whether Gus gets control or not. If we keep grossly underperforming, it's liable to get worse.

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  • WarTiger changed the title to channeling emotions


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