Instead of just hearing from Jeremy Pruitt and the Tennessee side, I thought I’d flip the script and listen to what Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn had to say. Malzahn faced the media on Tuesday, dealing with a 4-2 record halfway through the season. That’s not exactly what Auburn fans had in mind after last year.
The pressure is starting to ramp up on Malzahn, despite signing a seven year extension last December. That pressure stems from a lack of production on offense, which can be pinned to a struggling Jarrett Stidham. That struggling offense will now face a Tennessee defense, which is showing some signs of coming alive in the middle of the season.
“We’ve got Tennessee coming in with two weeks to prepare,” Malzahn told the media on Tuesday. “I think they’re a hungry team. They’ve got good systems on both sides of the football and we’re expecting their best.”
For Malzahn, Pruitt poses a familiar threat defensively. The two have squared off in each of the last five seasons.
“Jeremy Pruitt — we’ve faced him numerous times. We know each other very well. I think he’s got a talented set of defensive guys. He looks very similar to how he has in the past. The advantage they’ve got is they’ve had two weeks to prepare and get healed up and all that.”
Auburn’s playoff hopes are on life support right now, which Malzahn acknowledged. That group was in a similar spot last year and ended up making it all the way to Atlanta to play for the SEC title. Gus sounds like he’s trying to replicate that success this season.
“But the way we are right now, like I said, our backs are against the wall with how we want to finish this thing,” Malzahn said. “So we’re playing at home and I expect our group to be extremely, extremely hungry on Saturday.”
After Tennessee, the Tigers will finish with Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Liberty and Alabama. But first things first, they’ll have to wake up that dormant offense on Saturday. Jeremy Pruitt is going to do everything in his power to make sure that doesn’t happen.