Jan. 1, 2007
THE MODERATOR: Coach your thoughts on the game, please.
COACH TUBERVILLE: First, I would like to say thanks to the Cotton Bowl and AT&T. What a great week we all had. It's been wonderful. Nebraska, what an excellent football team. We were lucky to be in the game after the first half. And that's typical of Auburn. Win and win ugly. And we did that today. But we found away. And that's how this team's done it all year long. They scraped, clawed (and) had great time management. I enjoyed watching our defense recover from stumbling out of the blocks.
Offensively we just never got consistent, but we did run time off the clock and give our defense a little break. Had some great performances. But when it's all said and done this group's won as a team all year and we did again that today. Winning 11 games, it's huge. Second time we have gotten over the 11, at least to the 11-win mark in the last two years or three years and that's huge in college football.
THE MODERATOR: Questions now from the floor.
Q. For Will and David. If you all could talk about just your whole second half. What y'all did to just tighten things up and what y'all did to contain Lucky too.
Will Herring: They gave us a little trouble in the first half. We felt we played pretty well except for the two drives. Made some mistakes here and there and it led to touchdowns. Coach did a great job of rallying the troops at half time. And he just told to us keep fighting, keep playing. And we made the adjustment on the board and he took care of the X's and O's and we just continued to give great effort and pull together in the second half.
Q. Your fullback doesn't touch the ball much. What did you think going into this on that goal line drive to give him the ball twice like that?
COACH TUBERVILLE: Well, he's got strong legs; he's got great jumping ability. Carl's a guy that makes plays; made plays for us all year long. He's a big play guy. He knows how to play different positions. We caught them by surprise. He's more of a tailback in the backfield and just running a short play with him coming off the line of scrimmage, we did get a good surge out of the center and two guards. That was a big play obviously to get that much movement down there. But Carl has been a big play guy for us all year long.
Q. Coach, on that play that wasn't replayed where it looked like y'all had a touchdown pass over in the end zone. What did the refs tell you and what are your feelings about replay in general?
COACH TUBERVILLE: Well, I'm a proponent of the replay until that play. (Laughter.)
And we couldn't get a replay on that and they get a replay on the spot on the last play of our drive down on the last deal. That was kind of unusual. Very unusual. But I thought the officials did a good job overall. The replay's got to be used a lot better than that, obviously. Everybody in the stadium saw that and surely the guy's got ten screens around him and can see it. But we have got to train our guys better. There's been some problems this year with instant replay with guys in the booth. And you don't have to be a rocket scientist to be a replay guy. All you got to do is look at the screen. It's good for college football. And I think that it will continue to get better. It's still new. Only in it two years.
Q. Coach, your thoughts when they decided to go for it fourth and 11. Were you shocked that they weren't kicking a field goal?
COACH TUBERVILLE: We had a pretty good stat on them. I don't think the kid had, on their side, had kicked a 40-yard field goal. That was his longest all year and if I'm not mistaken that would have been pretty much over 45 to 50 into the wind. Wind was blowing a little bit harder than what you would think if you weren't down there. And we had trouble kicking into that direction also.
But they went for the win. This is a bowl game; you come here to win the game. They thought that was the best way to do it. And fortunately for us we made some plays and got the ball back.
Q. Courtney, for you over here. That first catch of yours when you fell down it looked like you weren't moving or anything what happened with you there?
Courtney Taylor: Basically I just kind of fell on my head really hard. And I guess it kind of like jarred me a little bit. I was thinking in my head, oh, God, don't do anything silly to me or whatever. But fortunately it wasn't that bad and I was able to get up. Coach Tub told me to get up and run off the field. So I did. And I almost fell.
(Laughter.) I almost fell.
Q. Courtney, could you just talk about what it means to you to be Auburn's all-time career receiver; and after that, coach, would you talk about that accomplishment.
Courtney Taylor: Just the fact that I had the opportunity just to play at Auburn. And then the opportunity to even break any kind of record is an honor. I thank God for everything and I thank this man to my right, right here for getting me the ball. I told him he's going to be driving an Escalade, but that's again against the rules, so he's going to have to wait awhile with that. It's an honor for me.
COACH TUBERVILLE: You give that to me.
Courtney Taylor: I give it to you? Is that okay? All right, cool. Well, Coach Tub gets the Escalade then.
Q. This is for coach, could you talk about the second-half defensive performance. Did you do anything differently or was it just better intensity or what?
COACH TUBERVILLE: We played mostly basic defenses. We didn't blitz a whole lot; what, four five times the whole game. Not a whole lot. Just defended. And we were going to make them earn what they got. If you looked at what they were doing, they tried to confuse you. They were trying to get us in a blitz and get us messed up on the changing formations and we weren't going to allow them to get the big play. And that let them get more yards than we would have hoped, but when it really came down to crunch time, other than a couple drives the first half, we played good on third down. And I thought that was the key. We played good third-down defense the second half and were able to get them off the field and our offense back on.
Q. Coach, kind of a two-parter. You talked during the trophy presentation about this senior class. Can you touch upon that a little bit more and their accomplishments and then after that talk about the future and continuing and carrying over what they have developed in your program?
COACH TUBERVILLE: Yeah, they have been the heart and soul of this team. Winning 41 games in four years and 50 games in five years, that's phenomenal in college football. It's hard. And what we put these guys through, 365 days a year, they have earned the right to brag about this. And I'm proud of them.
This has been a great senior bunch. They have persevered. We didn't have a great team this year. They all knew that. We didn't have a lot of playmakers. Big playmakers at times and so we had to control the ball, play defense and have a good kicking game and then somebody had to stand out and usually during the year somebody else stepped up and made plays. But if you look at Kenny down to my left, what he's done for us in the last couple of years, and of course Brandon and Will, Courtney and these guys have overcome a lot of things. And again, it's hard to imagine what we have done in their tenure here as consistently as what we have done and played the teams that we have played. We played some hard teams. We played some good teams. I think if we go back and look at it, they have about 75 to 80 percent playing teams that are in the Top 10 and beating them about 75 percent of the time. Nobody else has done that.
We were the only team this year to beat two BCS teams. We should have been in the BCS. And that's not to say anything against the Cotton Bowl. We should have, last year and this year, we were ranked higher than some teams that went. But that's the luck of the draw. We lost at the end of the year, but these guys knew proving coming here to the Cotton Bowl and beating a Top 20 team would be huge and they did. And I'm so proud of these seniors.
Q. Courtney, have you ever had a flag thrown inside your facemask and how did that feel?
Courtney Taylor: No, I can't say that I have. What I was thinking about was, I guess, what was the guy? Minnesota guy that got hit in the eye with the flag awhile back? Okay. Okay. Well, I think that was my best catch of the day, I think. But you got to thank the referee, he did a great job of throwing it too, so. Wow.
Q. Anybody can answer this. The early start with the struggle and after last year's loss to Wisconsin, how does it feel to get this win and get the monkey off the back kind of thing?
Brandon Cox: Well, last year losing to Wisconsin, we heard about that from the day we got back on campus from coach wearing his Capital One badge up until the snap of the first game. Everybody talked about that. And then to come here, we had a lot of pressure on us to not let that happen again. We already heard if we lost Coach Mus(champ) was going to make it even worse on us. So me being a junior I had to come back, these seniors probably didn't care too much about that, but we came out and like I said we got off to a slow start, but that's kind of been the story of our year. We have been a second half team all year and we came out second half and played a good game.
And hopefully, since it was a 10:30 kick off and everybody has been talking about those early games for us, so hopefully we can put that one in the back too.
Q. Can you talk about your interception and about the defense as a whole how you guys played today?
Karibi Dede: Yeah, on the interception David just, he had good coverage on the out there and the island all night. He just stepped up and challenged their receivers. And on that play he got his hand on it and it seemed like it was in the air forever. I was under the ball just waiting. And it came down. And unfortunately on the run back I ran out of gas, so my teammates they gave me a lot of stuff about that.
But we were fortunate, we went and put it in. The defense as a whole, like Brandon said, we just stepped up a lot there in the second half. The first half we gave up a few plays. Coach Muschamp made adjustments at half time and second half they tried to run a lot of the same plays in the second half, the second time around we were on them.
Q. The two guys on the end, David and Kenny. This has been the quietest you've been all week long. But talk about being that this is the last game the two of you are playing in and as you stepped off the field, talk about how that felt for the two of you.
Kenny Irons: We're quiet because our head is killing us right now. There's some big guys out there. But just stepping off that field there was a lot of memories. I said my greatest memory will be Dede's interception; and CT (Courtney Taylor), teasing him during the week, during the game, teasing CT, because he got caught by the linebackers, he got caught by the linebackers. And I think Dede got caught by a lineman or something you know.
David Irons: It was the center that ran him down. It was the center that ran him down.
Karibi Dede: To my defense, I want to say that there was a tall sweep the play before, it went all the way to the sideline. And I was running that down. I was thinking they got to take me out and give me a blow. And the ball went up and I caught it and I don't who it was that ran me down, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a lineman. I'm pretty sure it was a wide receiver out there or something.
Q. Tommy, you didn't get a chance before, can you just reflect on Courtney and his career?
COACH TUBERVILLE: Pardon? I didn't hear that.
Q. Reflect on his career.
COACH TUBERVILLE: Courtney? He came in as a we recruited him out of a small high school. And he played quarterback. And he was probably a heck of a lot better basketball player than he was a football player. But we had some good receivers that we recruited that year, I think four. And he was the one that we decided to not play and red shirt. And thank goodness we did. He's really made a difference for this team. He's grown up each year and gotten better. Putting on weight. He's very athletic and he's smart. He understands football and understands how to get open, uses his body real well and been a big factor. Not just this year, but over the last three or four years of him playing. He's made a lot of big plays for us and it's been fun to watch him play. We're going to really miss him.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR Will Muschamp
On the Nebraska offense: "They're an outstanding offense. ... They're averaging over 30 points a game, and we hold them to 14. Our kids played hard. On the (Nebraska) touchdown pass, that was my fault. I missed their personnel going into the game. There was a little confusion, and we just didn't get lined up. They put together just one other drive. They hit a draw on us for 25 yards. ... It was something we had worked on. I just didn't coach it well enough. Other than that, we played well. We wanted to get them to third down. We knew the first series would be a little herky-jerky. Once we settled down, we played well and played hard. That is what we have done all season. If we put our kids in the right spots, we'll be OK."
On if Nebraska did anything that was not expected: "Nothing. Everything was something we had prepared for. Obviously, there were some man-beaters because we play a lot of man-to-man. We played a little more zone than I'm used to playing, but that is kind of what the game dictated. That is what I felt we needed to do."
On the defensive stand late in the game following a lost fumble by Auburn at its 42: "We have a lot of confidence. We're going to go out and make stops. We've done that 11 times this year. ... We're going to pressure them, we're going to go after them, we're going to go man-to-man. That's what we do. We did a good job of pressuring the quarterback. We hit him late in the game and affected him. That's what we wanted to do."
On being Auburn's go-to guy in the second half: "It's Brandon (Cox). We had a slow start coming out. It's not because we've been off awhile. It's because they were throwing some stuff at us that we weren't picking up. In the second half, we made the adjustments that we needed to make. We moved the football the second half. All the work we've done in the summer is paying off. Brandon stood in there under all that pressure. At one point in time, it seemed like they were bringing guys off the sideline. But he did a great job and handled the pressure."
On setting the Auburn school record for most receptions: "I have always been a competitor. I came into the game saying, 'Hey, this is my last game.' This is my last time to put on an AU helmet and uniform and play with those 150 guys. It means a lot to be right now. I hate to say it's over because now I have to enter the real world. But I'm ready because I'm a competitor."
QB Brandon Cox
On a pass that was almost intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the second half: "Luckily, he tried to one-hand it and batted it down. It was one of those I got away with."
On offensive changes in the second half: "Watching them on film, they really hadn't shown a lot of pressure. But they came out in the first half and showed pressure. They were bringing pressure two out of three plays. So we had to go to a more a base offense, leaving more guys in for protection."
OG Ben Grubbs
On ending the season with a victory: "It's a relief, really. It has been a long season. We had a lot of early morning games. We had some ups and downs. But to finish off an 11-2 season means a lot to the seniors and to the Auburn family. I couldn't be more excited. We didn't play as well as I thought we could, but the win is all that matters. I would like to take my hat off to our defense. They did a great job."
On if this Auburn team overachieved: "I think we did. We had a lot of individual talent, but we weren't that strong as a whole to start with."
On whether the Nebraska defensive scheme was a surprise: "They did pretty much everything that we were expecting. We watched a lot of film on them. We knew what they were going to do. They're big guys, strong guys. We had to get adjusted to them. SEC defenses are quicker and not as big. Sometimes, I was overreaching the nose guard. We had to remember these were bigger guys."
DB David Irons
On Auburn's defensive effort: "Our defensive front stepped up. They won the game really. On the last play, they came to my side and threw it away."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR Al Borges
On effort by receiver Courtney Taylor: "He's a playmaker. It's good to see him go out that way."
On passing more in the second half: "We wanted to do it in the first half, but we didn't get good protection. But we settled in. In the second half, we got more solid protection and that gave us a chance. ... We did what we had to do to win the game."
On winning a bowl game: "Believe it or not, last year's loss (to Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl), as badly as we played, was a motivating factor, too. Win or lose, one way or another, you know where you are with regard to the players that are coming back. But this is such a great bowl game. This is the third time I've been to the Cotton Bowl, and it gets better each time. I think the kids really had a great time. It's great to punctuate the week with a win."
LB Karibi Dede
On ending his career at Auburn: "There is no better way to go out than on top. We went out and won 41 games in four years. I had a chance to play with a great group of guys. The guys who will be seniors next year have grown up. ... I am just glad to be a part of the Auburn family. I have a great belief in these guys and what they can do next year."