Gus Malzahn on Auburn's losing streak in Death Valley: 'I don't have to bring it up because everybody else brings it up'
If you didn’t know, it’s been a long time since Auburn won in Death Valley.
The year was 1999 and Tommy Tuberville was in his first season at Auburn and Gerry DiNardo was in his final season in Baton Rouge before being replaced by some guy named Nick Saban. Gus Malzahn was coaching in Arkansas that year — at Shiloh Christian High School.
Needless to say, it has been quite some time.
With Auburn set to once again make the trip to Death Valley on Saturday, it didn’t take long for one the strangest stats in the SEC to come up during Malzahn’s Tuesday media availability. The Auburn coach was asked on Tuesday if he brings the streak up with his players leading up to this game.
“I don’t have to bring it up because everybody else brings it up. Our guys know,” Malzahn said. “But at the same time, from a coach’s standpoint, every year is different. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past, when you have an opportunity, you have got to go seize that opportunity. That’s really as simple as it gets, as far as our approach.”
During his time at Auburn, Malzahn is 0-3 in Death Vally but came very close to ending the streak back in 2017. Auburn held a 20-point first-half lead against LSU but a D.J. Chark punt return touchdown gave his team the spark they needed to come back and keep the streak alive as LSU beat Auburn 27-23.
What is it about Death Valley that makes it tough on Auburn? According to Malzahn, the key is to finish the game in the hostile environment.
“I guess we just haven’t found a way to finish,” he said. “When I think about it, of course I get asked that just about every time but two years ago, we had an opportunity but we didn’t finish the game. So, if we get that opportunity again, we have to do a better job of finishing.”
Aside from finishing the contest, this year’s game will likely down to Auburn’s defense limiting Joe Burrow and LSU’s offense on the field. That’s easier said than done based on what Malzahn has seen on film this season.
“They do a good job of getting the ball out. They have done a good job and (Joe Burrow) can extend plays, you are talking about a complete guy,” Malzahn said when asked about Burrow. “He throws the ball vertically down the field, he’s very accurate, very accurate with his intermediate and his quick game and he can extend plays. He is a good runner too, they can call quarterback running plays and he can run it, too. He is a complete quarterback.”
If Auburn’s defense can’t limit that “complete quarterback” on Saturday, you can fully expect Malzahn to once again be facing questions regarding his team’s lack of success in Death Vally two years down the road.