Auburn coach Gus Malzahn didn’t waste any time responding to the game film controversy Tuesday, issuing a statement to begin his weekly press conference.
“We’ll always operate with the utmost integrity in everything we do,” Malzahn told reporters in Alabama. “If there’s ever anything I don’t know about that’s brought to my attention, we’ll deal with it in a prompt manner. The SEC office is aware of all the details on both sides.”
Malzahn’s response came a day after Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said he informed the Southeastern Conference about a discrepancy between the television broadcast and Auburn’s video footage of its win against Florida Atlantic. Specifically, Bielema said a “swinging gate” formation the Tigers used as part of their extra point and two-point conversion package was not on the film sent to Arkansas this week.
Malzahn said he was notified about the matter Monday, but would not answer any questions about the video sent to Arkansas. Bielema revealed the discrepancy during his press conference and answered a few follow-up questions, although he may have violated an SEC bylaw in discussing the issue publicly.
“There are just some clips that haven’t - shall we say - the TV copy doesn’t match the film copy,” Bielema said Monday. “And it’s something we have kind of been aware of now for the last week and a half in getting our preparation. So we can use other film and stuff like that to make sure we are getting the full picture.”
The video controversy has added another interesting chapter between the two coaches that dates back to SEC Media Days in July.
Most of the banter has been in relation to their philosophical differences.
Malzahn said when he first heard the argument that no-huddle, hurry-up offenses created player safety issues he thought it was a “joke.” Bielema fired back when informed of Malzahn’s comments later by saying he wasn’t being a “comedian.”
But Malzahn said Tuesday he wasn’t singling anyone out.
“As a matter of fact, at the time, there were a lot of people that were coming out and saying stuff regarding that, and I was just standing up for our philosophy and what we believe in on that,” Malzahn said Tuesday.
Malzahn’s offense has been key to Auburn’s surprising start. The Tigers (7-1, 3-1 in the SEC) are ranked 11th in the Bowl Championship Series standings and come to Arkansas with a four-game win streak.
The Razorbacks (3-5, 0-4 in SEC) haven’t enjoyed the same success in their first season under Bielema. Arkansas has lost five straight for the first time since 1997.
Despite their differences, Malzahn offered plenty of praise for Bielema on Tuesday.
“As far as he is concerned, he is an excellent coach,” Malzahn said. “Look at his track record. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s won everywhere he’s been, and I know they are going to be prepared. He’s also got a very strong staff with him.”
2. Feeling Good
Arkansas offensive tackle Grady Ollison has struggled with nagging injuries the past several weeks. But the sophomore – who lost his starting job to Brey Cook before the Florida game – said he’s finally feeling better after the off week.
“The past few weeks it seems like it has been one thing or another, whether it’s my ankle or my elbow was messed up or my back has been bothering me,” Ollison said. “But this is the first time since Week Four or Five that I’ve felt completely healthy.”
Ollison is still working in a reserve role, but offensive coordinator Jim Chaney said he’s “putting the heat back on” Cook. Ollison started the first five games at right tackle. Cook has started three straight at the position.
“That’s good to see because it makes Brey a better player, it makes us collectively a better offense,” Chaney said about the competition at the position. “I’m pleased with that. Grady’s bouncing back and trying to compete right now.”
3. On the Run
One of Chaney’s goals for quarterbacks is to collect two first downs with their feet each game. Arkansas starter Brandon Allen accomplished it at Alabama.
It was the first time in several weeks Allen had been turned loose because of the shoulder injury he suffered against Southern Miss on Sept. 14.
“You didn’t want to try to design anything where he had to take off and run,” Chaney said. “Nobody would do that when the quarterback has a little bit of a bum shoulder. So we didn’t want to do that. But at Alabama he took off and made two first downs with his feet and he’s a good enough athlete to be able to do that against anybody.
“We’re excited about him doing that again this week if the opportunity raises itself.”
4. Malzahn’s Influence
Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen wasn’t in high school when Malzahn was in the middle of his successful run at Springdale High. But the former Fayetteville High quarterback said Malzahn’s influence on football in the state with his hurry-up, no-huddle offense was evident.
“He definitely opened the door to a lot of the style of offense that he runs,” Allen said. “It’s been pretty successful in a lot of different places and he does a pretty good job with it. I’ve kind of seen that offense a few different times in my career.”