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December 2, 2013

HD: Highlights from Malzahn's press conference


AUBURN | Head coach Gus Malzahn reflects on the Iron Bowl win and looks ahead to Missouri during his Monday press conference.

MALZAHN: Opening Statement…"Obviously, it is a big game. Our kids are excited about going to Atlanta and playing in the SEC championship game. We are playing against a very good, all-around team. We are talking about one of the best offensive teams in college football. They have the ability to hurt you with the run. They have huge receivers that can run on the outside. Their quarterback is a dual-threat guy. They present a lot of challenges in that area. We are also talking about one of the top 20 rush defenses in the country. They also have the ability with their front four to put pressure on the quarterback without blitzing, which is a sign of a good defensive team. They are extremely well-coached and well-disciplined. They make you earn it. It will be a big challenge for our team."

Helping his team move on from the win…"You have to be as honest with them as you can. That is our biggest challenge as a team. It was a very emotional win. It was a physical game, but we have to put it behind us and we have to put all of our attention on Missouri. We are talking about a top five team and a chance to win the SEC Championship. Every time we have challenged this team this year, they have risen to the occasion. They were pretty locked in last night at practice.

"I think any time you have a week to get over the emotion of a game, it definitely helps. This is a challenge that is a little bit different. We only have one week. I really believe that any chance you get to go to Atlanta and you are playing for the SEC Championship, which is everyone's goal in this league, you shouldn't be distracted. You should be focusing up, and I really believe our players will."

Nick Marshall's progression from August to now…"I am going to say this again, he has only been here for what, six months? What he has done to lead our team and put us where we are at is really unbelievable. He has gotten more comfortable, but that is to be expected. He was learning the offense the first four weeks and each week he is getting more comfortable. His teammates are playing hard for him. You are talking about the best players in America, and I think at this point in the season, you have to start mentioning his name with a bunch of these other guys."

How long did it take him to unwind Saturday night…"It took a little bit to unwind. No matter who we play, it takes me a little bit to unwind. (I have to) sit down and take everything in. (I) probably went to sleep around two o'clock. That's about normal, and got up the next morning early ready to go."

Keeping the team from being distracted by all of the hype of the game and BCS speculation…"I'm really not worried about our team at all in that area. This game is big enough. We are playing for the SEC championship, so they are going to be focused on that. There's no doubt in my mind. We'll worry about all of that afterward and see what happens."

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