Quotes from coaches, players after Auburn's 55-23 win over Tenne - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Quotes from coaches, players after Auburn's 55-23 win over Tennessee

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Quotes from coaches and players following Auburn's 55-23 win over Tennessee, Saturday, November 9, 2013.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn

Opening Statement...

"A very big win for us on the road against a team that has been playing extremely well at home. It was a great crowd. It was loud down there. It was a true team effort. We faced some adversity early. I was real proud of our special teams. Two special teams touchdowns, there were momentum plays that helped turn the game around. I was real proud of our discipline. We had one penalty, I believe. It was an offsides, lined up in the neutral zone. I was real happy with our team. It was a true team effort. It was a big victory in a tough place to play."
 
On the unusual flow of the game...

"We were just trying to feel them out early. We were curious how they were going to play us. We figured they were going to try to stop the run, roll an extra guy down and play a single high, and they did that. We hit the score early and we kind of figured out what was going on and were able to run the football."
 
On the two turnovers and blocked extra point...

"I felt like that was only negative of the day. We had the turnover after a four or five yard play and then we threw a pick six, but our players are playing together, they're showing some mental toughness, they're not panicking, they're believing and they're playing together."
 
On Nick Marshall...

"He's a great athlete. He's starting to understand the offense, he's making the right decisions and when he gets the ball out in space, he can really do some things."
 
On the kick and punt return touchdowns...

"That was big. The punt return was a long punt return, we had really good blocking at the point of attack. Corey Grant cut it back across the field. He's got real speed. Our guys did a really good job. Coach Fountain has worked extremely hard on the little things the last couple weeks. We felt like we were close in a couple areas. He and his staff have done a really good job focusing in. Those were two huge plays that helped us win the game."
 
On the pick six, and responding with a TD of their own...

"That was momentum. They had all the momentum and the place was going crazy and we came back and answered and that was really a big plus."
 
On what needs improvement..

"A very big win for us on the road against a team that has been playing extremely well at home. It was a great crowd. "We made those two critical mistakes, fumbling the football and throwing the pick six. Besides that I felt like we got better. You have to give those guys credit. They're a good team, and like I said earlier, they play extremely well at home with a lot of young talent."
 
On the pick six..

"The kid (Jacques Smith) made a great play, there's not doubt. I think he was trying to throw ball away down at the ground and the guy made a really good catch and anticipated the play, so hey , that's part of it, we'll go to the next play. That's one of Nick's strengths, he doesn't get too high or too low, and he came back and responded extremely well."
 
On not passing very much...

"When you're running the football just keep doing it. That's kind of who we're developing in to. I still believe we can throw the football. There's no doubt in my mind that we can but when you don't have to, there's a pretty good feeling when you can line up and runt he football at will."
 
On Chris Davis...

"Chris Davis is a veteran guy and you could see he made some great moves. He went north south, he didn't dance around, he made a couple of really great moves and had enough speed to take it to the house."
 
On Tre Mason's fumble...

"The thing about Tre is that he's madder than anybody else. He's madder than the coaches, he's really hard on himself, and he bounced back and he's done that most of the year."
 
On the blocking on the outside...

"Our receivers are doing a great job blocking. That stood out to me. They did a good job of covering up people, allowing Nick to get out there and at least get on the single high safety one-on-one."
 
On what he told the team after the game...

"I just told them to enjoy it. It was a big win. This is a tough place to play and I was very concerned about this one. We'll start worrying about next week tomorrow. I told them to enjoy it, they've earned it. I just told them I'm proud of them."
 
On the second quarter...

"We started out trying to get a feel for them. We tried to throw it a couple of times and then we got into a rhythm. We kind of saw how they were playing us, what they were giving us, what they were taking away. Coach Lashlee and his staff did a really good job with adjustments and we were able to run the ball and get some momentum and any time we get some first downs and we're able to pace, that's kind of when we're at our best and that's what happened in the second quarter."
 
On how important it is for the team to be playing their best football down the stretch...

"Anytime you're playing good teams, you have to play your best football. We talked about improvement in each practice and each game and I feel like for the most part we've done that all season. We're going to have to continue to do that because you're talking about two of the better teams in all of college football."
 
On being done with road games...

"The first quarter we were on the verge of being terrible against LSU and I think everybody saw that. After that first quarter we played pretty good football on the road. This is the toughest conference in the country, especially on the road so we're glad the road is behind us."
 
On his red zone defense...

"That's kind of been our MO all year. Our defense has really rose up. Once we get in the red zone, we're one of the better defense in college football in the red zone. That's been a big factor and I think vice-versa on the other side of the football too."
  
On the special teams as a whole...

"Coach Fountain and his staff have done a great job. We have one of the better kickers in college football, we have one of the better punters in college football, now we're starting to get our return game right. Guys are starting to do their assignments and if we can continue to improve in that area it will really help us."
 
On if at the beginning of the year they thought they'd be a one-loss team at this point in the season...

"I didn't let my mind go there. We just took it one game at a time. I told our guys that as long as we improve each practice and each game, we'll see what happens. I was curious just like our team was, how we'd do and how we'd improve. They found a way and they bought into what we asked them to do and I'm proud of them for that."

Auburn QB Nick Marshall

On game atmosphere...

"I was really just in the moment, tuned everything like the crowd out, and just played my game."
 
On interception then quick score...

"I just made a bad read. I was really trying to throw it at the ground, but the defensive guy # 55 made a great play on the ball. He was just able to catch it and go into the end zone, but I just put that play behind me and came out worrying about the next drive."
 
On making up for interception...

"I had to redeem myself with that one. Adversity hits us and the coaches use that to tell how well we respond. Again this whole season we've just been overcoming adversity." 
 
On run-focused game plan...

"It's just something I'm not worried about throwing the ball, it's just doing whatever the team needs for us to be successful and that's what I'm going to keep doing."
 
On the three thirty second drives...

"It's just something we work on at practice, like pacing them so they really couldn't keep up with the pace. The defense gets tired and we just keep running and moving the ball in that way."
 
On competition between himself and Tre Mason...

"No we just taking what the defense gives us and play War Eagle football."
 
On decision making in the zone-read...

"I've been making a lot of good decisions, but bits still a priority that I keep working on every day at practice to get better and better at it."
 
On reading UT defense...

"Yeah I was reading it right. They probably had a couple missed assignments when I threw it, so I took advantage of it and gashed it."
 
On read on 7 yd. TD run...

"Yeah, I just saw a big gap in the middle of the field that the offensive line opened up. I was just able to hit it with my speed and legs to get towards the end zone."
 
On hoping to break 60 yd. run for a score...

"Yes sir. I was really supposed to score that, I wasn't too worried about it. Tre (Mason) was able to get us in the end zone."
 
On expecting to be 9-1...

"I did but coming off a 3-9 season last year, Coach Malzahn said this is going to be the biggest turn-around in college football. All of us bought into that and just doing what the coaches tell us to keep winning."

Auburn RB Corey Grant

On kick return...

"Like you said we had some great blocking and I saw were the defense over-perused on one side, so I just cut it back there was the touchdown."
 
On how he would defending rushing attack...

"I don't know, that's kind of hard. We have three different types of running styles, so I just really don't know."
(on Marshall's performance in the zone-read)
"He's doing a great job, and Coach stressed that in practice. He keeps getting better week by week and I'm certain you can see it."
 
On Tre Mason...

"I think he's a great running back who runs hard to get the tough yards. He just seems to get better and better each week."
 
On looking ahead...

"That's very exciting for us with Georgia next week, then you get a bye week, and then come in with Alabama. To finally be done with the road games and be home for big games is something to look forward to."
 
On field vision...

"The receivers have been doing there job on the perimeter, especially with the sweeps and things like that. They're getting on their guys and making it easier for me to make my reads to see if I should cut it up or keep it outside."
 
On how to prepare for upcoming games...

"Just keep doing what we are doing and the coaches' stress that in practice. Every phase of the game just keep getting better. With these two upcoming games, special teams is going to be a big part and contributor. So I think we just keep working hard to get better in those areas also."

Auburn DB Ryan Smith

On the comeback...

"We teach at practice to just keep fighting and focus on going play by play.
 
On being a part of such a wild game...

"Yeah, throughout the years we've had a couple of wild games. We just had to stay focused on each play; don't worry about the bad plays, just focus on the next ones."
 
On tempo of offense...

"No, I want the offense to keep going at their pace."
 
On Nick Marshall's performance...

"He played a good game and how our coaches wanted him to play. The whole offense played a complete game."
 
On impact the offense had on the defense...

"It takes the pressure off of us. Where we feel like we made mistakes early in the game, the offense came and made up for them. It big for us and our confidence as a team."
 
On thirty second drives...

"When you're on the sidelines, you get so happy that the offense comes out and answers like that. So as a defense, we are ready to get back out there and answer as well."
 
On overall defensive performance...

"We don't like the rushing yards a bit and feel like we had a lot of misfits so we'll get back to practice and fix it before next week."
 
On Tennessee spreading the field...

"It was just misfits so they were able to bounce the ball a couple times, and like I said we'll get it fixed."
 
On next game...

"Like I said, we'll just get back in the film room tomorrow and focus on Georgia and take it game by game."
 
On how he would defend Auburn offense...

"It's hard to go against an offense so versatile with running and passing game. It's just hard, I couldn't even tell you."
 
On playing in the box on third down...

"You know sometimes we may go dime package, so that might be the answer to why I was in the box on those third downs."

Tennessee head coach Butch Davis

Opening statement...

"I think it's pretty evident to everyone who watched the game. First of all, special teams, we take tremendous pride in playing special teams here. We gave them twenty-one points in teams alone. Field position, so it doesn't give you a chance right from the get go. Then, obviously, them being able to run the football, (Nick) Marshall being able to control the game with his legs, even when we had individuals in position, we couldn't get him down. He's a great player and give him a lot of credit, but obviously disappointing in a lot of aspects. This is part of the development of our football team. It's unfortunate, but we're going through it. We've just got to keep working to get better and better and build it. We have an off week to get ourselves ready to go, and then finish strong with two weeks. I want to thank our crowd, tremendous crowd. We're going to need them in two weeks. Again, special teams unacceptable, didn't play very well playing in space, too many missed tackles. I thought offensively we were able to establish the run a little bit. I thought Rajion Neal ran hard. Again, any time you give up twenty-one points and a vivid, vivid speed differential. I'll answer any questions you may have."
 
On if special teams is more frustrating due to the time they spend on it...

"Well, obviously it's a return on your investment, but regardless of that, we take great pride in playing special teams and it's unacceptable. A kickoff return to start the second half and everything is about momentum and gaining momentum, that's unacceptable. A punt return for a touchdown, it's unacceptable. It's players getting off blocks and making a play in space. Like I said, I think you all saw the speed differential out there. Everything we talk about is role understanding. Every individual has a role on this football team, some it's offense/defense, some it's special teams. You treat that role as though you're the best. You may get six snaps a game. I've always said it, if you're the left guard on the punt team, you're going to be better than any left guard in the country. That's everything and that's not singling out anybody. Don't go and look and see who the left guard on punt is, because that's just an example. It talks about role understanding and it's unacceptable."
 
On if he's surprised at his lack of team speed...

"Well, let me tell you this, it's been a great gauge of where we're at, where we need to go to improve, and get better as a football team and a football program. Again, seven top ten opponents, another top ten opponent. You see it on film, but when you see it in person, for me, it's a great measuring stick, a tool, of where we need to go with this football program, how we need to recruit, how we need to develop our players. That still doesn't excuse what just occurred. Like I said, this senior class now, they're going to be defined by how they finish. How do you finish your careers? You've got an off week to get better, and then two games. We still have a ton to play for."
 
On how he stresses that to the seniors...

"They know. I already stressed it in there, stressed it on the sideline. They know, and I don't think we can communicate it any more to them. It just comes down to we have to make plays. We've got to be able to make plays in space. We played some extremely, extremely talented football teams, but I know exactly where we're at in our football program and what we need to do to more forward and get better. I will tell you this, and you can write this. We will get it done. This place is too special. The only variable we have is time. Somebody may say, 'Why the heck are you doing that?' Because I believe in it. I believe in Tennessee football, I believe in our fan base. I gave up a lot to come here because I want to be a part of building something special and having that responsibility of getting Tennessee football back. I love Tennessee. Our pride and our passion for this place drives us every day in recruiting, in developing our players, and if it kills me, it kills me. I'm going to put everything I have in it to get Tennessee football back."
 
On being down seven late in second half...

"Well, give them credit. Every momentum swing, we talk about we're responsible for creating our own opportunities and we create our own opportunity, and then just like that the momentum switches again. Jacques Smith made a great play and he was dropping in coverage in a fire zone and did a great job. Again, now we have to be able to seize that momentum and capitalize. That was a big part of it because also it's right before halftime."
 
On if the good rushing teams are picking on the same things...

"I think every team has their little nuances. I think it's the ability to play in space. There were a number of times we had an individual there and we couldn't make the play. You've got to give them credit. Nick Marshall is a great player. Tennessee's not the only school that they've done it against. We've played against a high level of competition, the quality of the competition. When you play a fast team like Auburn that has great team speed and a quarterback that has the elusiveness of Nick Marshall, you have to be decisive in the way you tackle. If you sit back and play on your heels, it's over with. All week we talked about 'Shoot it, shoot it... run your feet and shoot, run your feet and go.' There were a couple of times we're in place and we sit back instead of just go, because even if you're aggressive and you miss, the pursuit is coming, but when you sit back now they can gain ground as they continue to make you miss."
 
On how important making a bowl game is in building the program...

"Well, I think just, I'm going to go back to our original philosophy of focus on the process. We have to focus on Sunday and then when we win Sunday, we graduate to Monday. When we win Monday, we go to Tuesday. We need to go back to focusing on everyone. We talk about pride in performance a lot around here. We talk about accountability in everything that we do. Stemming with me first and foremost, to our coach, to our players, and everyone associated with our football family. I think we just need to focus on one day at a time and winning each day. If we do that, we're going to take great strides. I said it last week and I'll continue to say it. I'm disappointed, I'm not discouraged. I try to pick out one, or two, or three positive things and try to build upon that and learn from our mistakes. We did have some individuals step up and play winning football. Not many, but we did have some individuals play winning football for us."
 
On the O-line's performance...

"I thought they responded. I thought we ran the ball effectively, but what was missing was big chunk yardage plays. When they ran the football it was a twenty yard gain, it was a thirty yard gain, it flipped field position. When we ran the ball it was eight yards, it was four yards, it was more methodical. It gets back to the ability to make individuals miss in space, but I love those guys. I'm on them, as you all see, but because I believe in them. I thought they responded. I'll know more though when I watch the film tonight."
 
On the placement of kicks on touchdown returns...

"The placement of the kick on the kickoff return, on their kickoff return, was adequate but it wasn't very deep. Anytime, just like with our returners, we talk about stealing five or ten yards right off your initial approach to catching the football. So, right there with their speed we were behind. Again, the ball spit out to the field and it can't happen. Our kickoff coverage team is designed to not let the ball spit out to the field. I thought the kick, the punt was good. It comes down to one-on-one matchups and getting off your blocks and we weren't able to do that. Our one shield let the ball outside on contain and not turning it back."
 
On how critical touchdowns are when settling for field goals...

"One of the things we talk about in the plan to win is scoring touchdowns in the red zone. We were able to kick field goals. I thought Mike Palardy, again, we talk about consistency and performance he has been consistent each and every game. We have to score touchdowns. It is a big difference and we weren't able to do that."
 
On similar circumstances during the Missouri game with not finishing the drive for a touchdown...

"I think it just comes down to execution. In the redone your whole mindset and frame of mind changes. The windows shrink. Your wide outs now have to be precise. They have to be perfect in terms of depths of their routes and technique. The coverages change. All your landmarks shrink. Your margin of error becomes smaller and smaller the closer you get to the goal line. It just comes down to execution."
 
On Joshua Dobbs...

"I will know more when I watch the film. Again, obviously the first thing you think about is the first play of the series when he throws the interception and read the body language of the defender, get the ball to your check down, but I thought he was decisive when he pulled the ball. It was great to see us making a play at quarterback in terms of pulling the ball down and creating some yardage. Again, that is a lot to put on the shoulders of an 18 year old playing against the competition that he is playing against but if anyone can handle it, it is Joshua Dobbs. I thought for the most part he did some very good things, positive things of continuing to move forward."
 
On the speed of Auburn...

"The only chance when there is a speed differential like there is, is proper angles and pursuit angles. The thing is if they out run the angles there is nothing you can do about it. The thing I have to look at when I watch the film is schematically were we sound and in positions to make plays. That is our jobs as coaches is to be able to put our players in positions to make plays. Sometimes that happens, it is competition. I told our football team this, with me love isn't conditionally. I love our football team. I love our players. I love them the same as I did in December, August, September, October and we have two more games left to continue ro get better, but again we have to learn from these mistakes. As the caretaker of Tennessee football it kills me, it pains me to see some of the things. When we talk about playing winning football it starts with special teams. It tells you the make up of your football team. Then taking care of the football, getting off on third down and executing in the red-zone these are the things in the last couple of weeks that we struggle with. I also think when you are the leader it doesn't matter if it is of a corporation, a group of people, of a football program or a company you have to take the emotion out of it. You have to evaluate everything. It is your job to make sure you are developing them, you are creating a mindset, work ethic and mentality. That is what I have to do is take the emotion out of it and continue to develop this football team day in and day out."
  
On our much the team needs this open week...

"They have been through a grind. It is the most difficult schedule in the history of college football since 1993. It has been a grind. We are playing high level competition, but again we have to continue to learn from it and block out the clutter and distractions. We have to focus on that process of becoming better. We will recalibrate and come back. We will practice next week. We will go out on the road recruiting a little bit just like we did the first bye week. It is all about our seniors now and finishing for the seniors. They have been through so much and they deserve to have some success. I haven't really thought about it (the bye week) if it is coming at the right time. I wish we could play tomorrow. We have to go back and correct and try to improve on as much of our deficiencies."
 
On the team getting caught up in the clutter and not focusing on the day to day...

"Absolutely not. You are at practice, you see what I see- a team that comes to practice everyday. I see a team that does the right things. They do everything we ask of them. I am playing six games because I want them to know, hey there is something to play for. There is a bowl game out there. I think sometimes these are 17 to 22 year old individuals that can get caught up in the clutter and distractions. It is all about hey we are building something here. It doesn't happen over night. Quick fixes fizzle out. Just focus on the process. I think it is a by-product of playing some really good football teams. I think it is a combination of a lot of those. These kids haven't been caught up in any of that. They have a work man like approach each and everyday that they come to work."
 
On schematically or athleticism that helps Auburn...

"I think it is a combination of both. They have some very talented football players. Nick Marshall is dynamic. I said it in here on Monday. They have great running backs. They are physical. They have great team speed on defense. They are a top ten opponent. I think what they do schematically challenges you. They do a great job of being in the bunch sets and tight formations. Everything in offensive football today is about creating space and one-on-one match ups. They create those match ups a little different then quote on quote your four and five wide spread offenses. They still create that one-on-one space with extra pullers on the edge or double teaming the three technique or running counter schemes with the quarterback. They do a great job and force you to play discipline. They force you to make tackles in space. They create hesitancy at times."
 
On ever having a coach get hurt celebrating...

"It didn't change anything. I think it a coach who loves his players and we get excited. Rajion Neal made a great play and it is not the first time that it has happened. Robert (Gillespie) puts a lot of effort and energy into coaching the running backs. I think if anything it shows you how much we care about our players."

Tennessee LB Dontavis Sapp

On Auburn's offense...

"You know it was difficult. We had a couple MA's, and they did a good job of finding them and exposing them."
 
On Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall...

"When your quarterback runs, it always adds an extra element for the offense. So, when the quarterback starts running the whole defense begins to break down. We had problems with it today, we have to come back. We have a bye week. We got to get it fixed."
 
On the sack by Cam Sutton early in the first quarter...

"That was actually Cam Sutton on the sack. You know, the game just got away. We had a game plan. We just didn't execute it, and that's what happens when you don't."
 
On problems faced going against a mobile quarterback...

"Because it's just an extra element the defense has to defend. You always have to somebody accounting for the quarterback when he can run. You know that's a guy you have to take away from somewhere else. It killed us today, and we as a defense have to go out and stop the run."
 
On Nick Marshall's execution...

"They executed their game plan well. You know like I just said it's unacceptable. This defense has to stop the run in order to give us a chance."
 
On defensive problems that keep occurring...

"We just have to play Tennessee defense. You know just play together. You know everybody has their assignment, do their assignment, and the coaches harp on doing your own job before you try to do something else. So, we just have to keep doing that, and keep getting better."
 
On the tough schedule...

"You know it's definitely a grind. Especially in this league that we play in. Teams are going to run it right at you. You kind of get beat up and nicked, but we can't let that be in our excuse. We may have played one of the toughest stretches in college football. Se. we just can't get down on our self. We got Vanderbilt coming in, in two weeks. We got a bye week this week. We have to work on our fundamentals and get better."
 
On Auburn's special team's play setting up their offense...

"Oh definitely, our special teams are Tennessee special teams. We didn't give our selves a chance to win. You know we gave up like, what was it 21 points on special teams. You know when you do that, it's very difficult to win at any level."
 
On the team taking a step back...

"You know we just have to play with energy and intensity, and not emotion. Emotion goes up and down, and you know when you play with energy and intensity it stays steady and rises throughout the game, but when you play with emotion it's always a roller coaster. We just have to get it back. You could feel the intensity in the air when we play Georgia and South Carolina, and the last couple of weeks it really hasn't felt the same, but we have to get it back."
 
On defending the read option of Auburn...

"Whether he pulled it or not, you always have to have your run fits for the play that you are responsible for defending. We got to have somebody account for the quarterback when he pulls it, and somebody if he gives it. So, we didn't do that too well today, and they brought it out."

Tennessee 
RB Rajion Neal

On the upcoming week off...

"I think it is coming at the perfect time, to give us a chance to go back to the drawing board. Get some rest and let their bodies heal up. That way we can get back to more fundamentally sound football."
 
On the toll their schedule has taken on their bodies...

"It has taken a good toll, seeing that some of the competition we play is in conference. I think in this league it is going to be physical week in and week out. So I definitely thing this bye week is coming at a good time."

On the team being tired...

"No I don't think so. We are just going through a rough patch that we just have to find out way out of."
 
On where the team is mentally...

"I feel that we are still mentally tough but we are also hurting a little bit from these losses. I think that the work that we put in, we feel like we deserve more. It hurts more when you work hard at it, and you have really given what you can to go out and get a win."

On benefits of physical practice...

"We got back to running the ball and being physical. We got some guys off the line and blocking the perimeter and front to let the backs get down field. So I definitely saw the improvement."
 
On red-zone offense...

"I can't put my finger on it but I know we have to start converting. These last two games are very, very important. The pressure is on."
 
On difference in his rushing last week to this week...

"I think we just got back to running the ball and back into the style of football that we are used to. Just believing and trusting in the guys up front. That's really all it was this week. Believing in those guys and giving them a chance to move some piles and let the backs get downhill and work a little bit."
 
On Joshua Dobbs...

"I feel like Dobbs does pretty well. He is an assertive, smart guy. He knows the ins and out of defense and our offense. I feel like he will keep growing as time goes on."
 
On celebration with Coach Robert Gillespie...

"I'm still not sure what happened. I am still asking questions about that. He won't tell me, because he told me that I needed to focus on the game. So I am not sure, but I am going to find out."

Source:  Auburn Athletics

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