The reports of Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings undergoing season-ending surgery last week were accurate, coach Gus Malzahn confirmed during Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, but the senior’s playing career isn’t over.

Malzahn said Hastings, who appeared in only two games this year, will take advantage of the new four-game redshirt rule and return next season. Hastings attempted to make a speedy recovery from a torn ACL in March but suffered a setback that required surgery and ended his season.

During the teleconference, Malzahn also previewed the No. 21 Tigers’ trip to Tennessee this Saturday, and you can read his comments below.

On WR Will Hastings:

  • He is planning on coming back next year and using the four-game (redshirt). That will be big for us. … He had a setback. He’s a great competitor who just wanted to help the team.

On facing Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt, does anything stand out?

  • He does a great job defensively. We have faced him every year since I’ve been here. 2013 was a great game, so was last year.

What stands out about facing Pruitt?

  • He checks and makes adjustments, sees alignments and personnel and does more changing from the sideline than anyone we play.

On OL Jack Driscoll’s status:

  • He practiced yesterday, and he looked better than he did last week. We are hopeful there.

On Jarrett Stidham’s trust in the offensive line:

  • He trusts them. Look, we are a complete offense. The second half of the season, it’s time to start putting things together, and I think we will.

On the nine-game SEC schedule

  • I’m a proponent of it. I think nine (SEC) games is appropriate. It will help make the schedule more balanced. I don’t think it’s as balanced as it could be right now.

On what’s been missing in the run game:

  • There are a few factors there. The bottom line is we need to be better there. Last week, we were close. We didn’t have many rushing attempts, but the ones we did, they were effective.

What specifically stands out to you about this Tennessee team?

  • They seem to play hard for their coach.

In all units?

  • In all units.

How has the team responded to the loss last week?

  • The energy level was higher than it has been on the offensive side. Practice is about executing.

On RB Boobie Whitlow’s status:

  • He is full-go. He is not limited like he was last week; he’s ready to go.

What stands out about Tennessee’s defense?

  • Those guys have played a lot of football, that’s to be expected.

On the team’s chemistry, how much of that has been brought up:

  • We are in great shape in terms of team chemistry. We just need to play better and we are set up to do that.