Malzahn confident in role as head coach

Live blog from SEC Media Days as Auburn takes the stage and Freeze gets the heat

Live blog from SEC Media Days as Auburn takes the stage and Freeze gets the heat

"Really is the leader of our defense and really our team leader", coach Gus Malzahn said.

Matthews is front and center on the Auburn media guide cover, joined by two other players and coach Gus Malzahn.

SC finished with a 6-7 record last season, including a 3-5 mark in the SEC.

The Auburn senior safety from Newnan lasted only one season at Georgia-where he was in the middle of one of the most insane plays in the last decade-and now is working on his master's degree and being praised for being a top team leader. He'll have plenty of friendly faces in the crowd September 23 at Memorial Stadium when Auburn visits Mizzou for the first time in team history.

Looking at important questions surrounding the Auburn Tigers heading into the 2017 football season.

"I've got a lot of history with Stidham", Malzahn said. From Gerald Williams and Donnie Humphrey in the early 80's to Tracy Rocker, Pig Goff, Nate Hill and others in the late 80's to Mike Pelton, Gary Walker and Randy Hart in 1993 to Tommy Jackson and Jay Ratliff in 2004 to Nick Fairley in 2010 and most recently Gabe Wright, Angelo Blackson, Nosa Eguae and Montravius Adams in 2013, Auburn has had quality play at the position.

"It's good to be versatile at multiple positions and could help me in the future, but also our team had a need at right tackle", Smith said.

Jimbo Fisher takes Nick Saban's FSU-SEC comparison in stride
Those two programs are resourced differently than any other programs in our conference. "I think we're No. 1 right now". Fisher said the practices were competitive because of the highly touted players on both sides of the football.

Malzahn cited the hunger of the 2013 team later on in the media session when asked to compare the teams but a big reason he has to feel good about his team in 2017 is the addition of quarterback Jarret Stidham. The Baylor signal-caller finished with 1,265 yards and 12 touchdowns before leaving the program at the end of the season. "We can't control the outside, we can't control what's going on around the country". The top Heisman candidate, at 15-to-1 odds, is Auburn sophomore quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Malzahn declined to name a starter at the position but called having depth at the position "the biggest comfort".

"That's where I am in my career, and I'm okay with that", said Malzahn. "So, I think that was probably a little bit blown out of proportion". What he's done since he's been at Auburn, just his leadership. "He's done a good job trying to win over his teammates with his work ethic".

"I know our players are hungry". Sean White and Malik Willis will state their cases early in practice, but it would be an upset if Stidham isn't the starter for Georgia Southern. Previous year when we got on that roll, that 16-win streak, he was leading the league in completions and quarterback efficiency. I like playing against them every year.

"I like the way it is right now", Malzahn said. The 211-pund signal caller has battled four injuries over the last two years at Auburn, including a broken forearm on the first drive of last year's sugar bowl loss to Oklahoma. "We have a chip on our shoulder and we're ready to get after it".

"We've got them at home". We want to be great. We have the coaches to get that done. So far there has been no indication that Malzahn wants to get back involved in the day-to-day management of the offense following an impressive spring practice for the Tigers.

Senior defensive back Tray Matthews, who transferred from Georgia in 2014, actually played against Auburn in 2013. "And the good thing is this year is we have a chance and we have to seize the moment", said Malzahn. I'd take you back two, I guess it was three years ago boy we lost a tough one. "We have a lot more experience on this team than we have the last couple of year".

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