Eric Waters had just finished his own workout. There, the high school teammates reminisced about the 2012 season. It didn’t go the way either would have liked. Eguae’s Auburn team went 3-9 just two years after winning a national title. Waters’ Missouri squad, meanwhile, finished 5-7, the first time the Tigers had finished under .500 since 2004.
With ample — and unwanted — time on their hands during the Christmas break, the weights were calling their names.
“We were just out there grinding, trying to get better,” Eguae said of their chance encounter. “That was the last time I've talked to him.”
That won’t change this week. The next time they converse, Eguae said, would come after Saturday’s SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.
“Me and Eric, we go back to third grade, we played youth basketball together and we played football in sixth grade, (and he was) my teammate throughout high school,” the senior defensive lineman said. “I've got to talk to Big Waters, his pops. I'm sure I'm going to talk to him after the game.”
Lashlee a Broyles Award finalist
Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee was named one of five finalists for the Broyles Award on Monday.
It came as no surprise to Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, himself a winner of the award — which is annually given to the top assistant coach in college — back in 2010.
"I (have) got a lot of trust in him," Malzahn said Sunday. "He knows this offense inside and out. He really allows me to be the head coach and the head coaching duties that go with a job like this. He does a great job. He's got very good relationships with our players."
No relationship has been more important than the one Lashlee has developed with quarterback Nick Marshall. Thanks to Lashlee, Malzahn said, Marshall’s transition from the junior college level has been a smooth one.
"You're talking about a quarterback that didn't go through spring," Malzahn said. "What Nick Marshall has been able to do, he's gotten better each week. Boy, he can really run. He's got a good arm. Rhett has done a great job of coaching him."
Aside from Lashlee, the other four finalists for the award are Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, Duke offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi.
The winner will be announced Dec. 10 at the Marriott Hotel in Little Rock, Ark.
Clark’s precise punts ‘huge plays’
Obscured by the dramatic ending to Saturday’s game — as was everything else that came before Chris Davis’ game-winning field goal return as time expired — was the play of Auburn punter Steven Clark.
He perfectly executed a pair of kicks against the Crimson Tide, as he was able to pin the visitors on their own 1-yard line on back-to-back possessions. Though the Tigers’ defense was unable to keep Alabama from moving the ball, Malzahn didn’t downplay Clark’s efforts.
“Those were huge plays in the game,” he said. “Give (Alabama) credit. They came out and they had good offensive plays to get off the goal line. Our special teams have been a strength of ours all year. “
To pick up its ninth victory in a row, Malzahn said that will need to continue Saturday.
“(Missouri has) good special teams, too, so that will be a big key to the game,” he said. “We are going to need to play extremely well on special teams.”