Coming off of a tough loss at Florida, Gus Malzahn said the Auburn open date this week comes at an ideal time.

“Yeah, a very good time,” the Auburn coach said on the SEC coaches media teleconference. “It’s also the halfway point of the season. Really gave us a chance as coaches to reevaluate things, get the best plan moving forward. Heal up before the stretch run.”

There’s been plenty to learn about Auburn so far, and Malzahn was asked to assess his team.

“I think you have to look at it big picture, played 3 top 20 teams away from home,” he said. “Our freshman quarterback is improving, really looking forward to the second half of the season, which will be challenging.”

Of course, much of that is behind freshman QB Bo Nix.

“He did a good job leading us to where we are now… this week has been really good for him and us,” Malzahn said. “We will have a really good plan moving forward, I think he will just continue to get better so that’s exciting.”

However, the Tigers suffered a big blow as RB Boobee Whitlow was injured and will be out several weeks.

“We are fortunate that we are deep in that room,” he said. “Kam Martin has been here a long time. We have 3-4 guys that have played, DJ Williams has a bright future and he will fit in there”

The Tigers return to action at Arkansas next week.

Here’s what else Malzahn said:

  • On Will Hastings: Will has had an outstanding career, came in as a walk-on kicker, expectations weren’t high but then moves to wide receiver and exploded… I think he’s in a good position to make plays in the second half of the season.
  • Hastings returning to Arkansas and on Malzahn coaching in Arkansas: Obviously, there are a lot of people I’m familiar with, anytime it’s your home state it’s going to be special game, no doubt.
  • On Jon Greenard: He is a dynamic player, no doubt. Got great get off, very aggressive. Caused some big problems, he is dynamic.
  • On Greenard’s get off: It was about what we thought but he got off the ball early and disrupted things… he is a very good pass rusher.