Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn is more concerned about playing Arkansas than his job security.
Malzahn acknowledged team injuries Tuesday morning in addition to the dismissal of wide receiver Kyle Davis in preparation for a trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas on Saturday.
Defensive back Tray Matthews and linebacker Tre’ Matthews are not expected to be ready in time for the weekend.
“We are a little banged up, but a lot of people are at this time without having an off week yet,” Malzahn said.
While the pair of defensive stars are inactive, Malzahn announced that center Casey Dunn will also be out. Offensive tackle Mike Horton is questionable.
“[Dunn] is a tough guy,” Malzahn said. “We got him back in the game, and he showed a lot of guts and a lot of courage, but just couldn’t finish the [game.] He is a winner.”
Linemen Marquell Harrell and Prince Tega Wanogho will take the place of injured Dunn and Horton, Malzahn said, and Braden Smith will play center.
With Davis’ dismissal, tight end Sal Cannella is expected to slide into his position on the depth chart. Davis joins a group of 14 former Auburn players who either transferred or were dismissed from the program.
“He was the backup there, and I thought [Cannella] did some good things, too,” Malzahn said. “Coach [Kodi] Burns and coach [Chip] Lindsey will have a plan moving forward as far as the receivers are concerned.”
Auburn’s offense faltered in the second half against LSU, failing to score any points as the home Tigers sealed the upset victory.
Malzahn maintains that, despite 17 consecutive run plays being called on first down, Lindsey is still calling the plays. What makes the difference for the on-field product, he said, is the offensive philosophy that he established while becoming Auburn’s head coach.
“[Lindsey] is a heck of an offensive coordinator and has done a great job for us,” Malzahn said. “Like I said, I’m not in any part of that, but I’m taking responsibility for everything that happened.”
For what many fans called a definitive moment in the inevitable firing of Malzahn, the head coach understands that, despite the blown lead and expectations, getting a week-to-week victory is his priority.
“Our fans are very passionate,” Malzahn said. “Our fans want to win championships and they should. Anytime you blow a 20-point lead on the road they should be frustrated, and I am frustrated also.
“We can’t let that happen again and we are not going to let that happen again.”
Following the loss in Baton Rouge, which continued an 18-year drought at Tiger Stadium, Malzahn said that his team would “win out.” Travelling to his home state this upcoming weekend, Malzahn expects a tough fight to maintain his promise to Auburn fans.
“When we go to Arkansas we need to win, and when we have an off-week we need to heal up and we will be set to finish this thing,” Malzahn said.