The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


September 4, 2013

Auburn's Malzahn facing old team, Arkansas State


That familiarity means the offensive-minded Malzahn spent a little extra time with the defensive staff discussing Arkansas State's personnel.

Lashlee said he recruited a "handful" of players on Arkansas State's offense and one or two on defense. Now, they'll try to beat each other.

"I thought last year that we brought in a pretty good class at Arkansas State," Lashlee said. "Those guys are winners. They've won nine straight. They're going to come in here with the expectation of winning and we'll have to play a really good football game to beat them."

They're certainly familiar with Arkansas State tailback David Oku, who rushed for 16 touchdowns last season after transferring from Tennessee. Oku was one of four Arkansas State players to rush for 100-plus yards in the opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

He's now on his fourth head coach in as many years, going back to Lane Kiffin and Derek Dooley at Tennessee. Oku said he signed with the Red Devils largely because he wanted to play in Malzahn's offense.

He said his initial reaction to the coach's departure was, "Oh no, not again."

"Who could possibly dream that up or even think that could happen to them?" said Oku, who was recruited by Auburn. "To me, it was crazy, and I wondered if I made the wrong decision.

"Coaches are going to do what's best for them, but It's helped me become a lot stronger today."

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