Red Wolves turn emotion into motivation
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 14:09
This isn’t a game of revenge, this is a game of talents.
Head coach Bryan Harsin, his staff and his players won’t reveal any juicy information on what it’s going to be like to play Gus Malzahn and his Auburn Tigers, but they will tell you what’s important about this Saturday’s football game in Auburn, Ala.
“Ultimately, that really has nothing to do with us going out there and playing. It’s playing our opponent and playing the guy in front of you,” Harsin said. “They know Malzahn and he knows this football team. There’s respect from that standpoint, but other than that we have to go out there and prepare for the best situation to win.”
With every question that came, Harsin and his players had the same response about facing Malzahn and their emotions about the match.
“I think the storyline in this is an opportunity to go into their environment, play a great football game and put ourselves in a position to win that game,” Harsin said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to put ourselves in that position. That’s all we’re worried about. We’re worried about taking care of our business this week.”
For senior wide receiver Allen Muse and senior running back David Oku, who played the year before under Malzahn, they said they are ready for the game and the opportunity to put their skills to the test.
“I look at Auburn as just a regular team. I don’t look at them as an SEC (Southeastern Conference) team or a team that won a national championship in 2010,” Muse said. “The relationship Coach Malzahn and I had wasn’t a bad relationship and I’m really just ready to play.”
When 6:30 p.m. comes around on Saturday, the Red Wolves and Tigers will be kicking off with intentions of winning and extending their record to 2-0 in what is sure to be an exciting game. Auburn defeated Washington State 31-24 on Aug. 31.
The last time the two schools faced each other was Sept. 4, 2010 at Auburn. The Tigers, with the help of former standout Michael Dyer, defeated the Red Wolves 52-26.
Senior quarterback Adam Kennedy said the Auburn defense will affect the scheme of this weekend’s play, but feels good about how the game will play out.
“The d-line is big, as is every SEC school. It‘s a good defense, a fast defense, but we‘re ready,” Kennedy said. “The wide receivers couldn’t wait for this week to get a chance to open up the pass game. We‘ve got a good game plan in and I think everyone has confidence going in there.”
Harsin said he feels pressure from fans every game to win and understands the emotion people have about facing Malzahn but their main goal for Saturday is to get in good position to win.
“No. 1, you’re playing against a very high caliber team. Those guys in the SEC, they got big d-linemen, so it’s going to start up there for our offensive line to protect the quarterback and establish the line of scrimmage and run game,” he said. “Eleven guys are going to line up in front of them that they have to be concerned about more than anything else, so I think our guys understand it. They understand the situation that we’re in.”
Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn. The game will be aired on the Fox Sports Network, 107.9 and AStateRedWolves.com.
“We just have to focus on ourselves and not get too emotional about it and just take it day-by-day, game-by-game, even though this is an important game to us,” junior safety Sterling Young said. “We respect [Malzahn] and everyone is just ready to play.”