OUTBACK BOWL POST-GAME QUOTES
January 1, 2010
Auburn University Head Coach Gene Chizik
To the Outback Bowl, I think we created a lot of great friendships here in the past week. I want to say what a great experience it was here for our whole football team. Our football team thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. From the time we got here to the time we left, it was a first class organization all of the way around. Everything was done first class. I want to say thank you and we felt very blessed just to be here and to be able to play in this bowl game. Our players and coaches felt that, so I just want to say thank you. It was a great week.
I want to say thank you to our Auburn fans who showed up. I know everybody got their money’s worth that’s for sure.
I’m not so sure I’ve ever gone into a game with seven wins and come out with 10. I think we had to win that thing about three times. It was fun.
Northwestern is a great football team and my hat is off to Pat, their administration and their young men. Those guys are class guys. They fought us down to the end.
I haven’t had time to see many bowl games up to this point this year, but it will be hard pressed to find one better than that one as far as getting your money’s worth.
I want to say something to our seniors who I just spoke to in the locker room and to our whole football team. These are young guys who I couldn’t be more proud of. They fought all of the way down to the end, through the overtimes and through all of the blunders we made and they kept playing and they kept fighting.
I couldn’t be more proud of our football team. It wasn’t always pretty and it wasn’t always exactly the way we would have liked it, but at the end of the day we got our eighth win. I’m proud to say that I’m head football coach here at Auburn. What a great culmination to a great week.
To all of the people in the Tampa Bay area who put so much into this, I want to say thank you. This is my home town and I had a ball. I also want to thank my administration and all of the people who are so instrumental and mean so much to Auburn.
I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m going to go home and re-introduce myself to my family and have a great night. I’m blessed.
On Northwestern and the game …
Northwestern kept coming back and fighting back and everything we did there was an answer for. I was disappointed in some of the things we did as a football team that are uncharacteristic of what we stand for. We had some personal fouls out there that were absolutely, 100 percent uncalled for. I don’t like it. I don’t like anything about it. We had the football game basically under control with a win and all we had to do was hold on to the football and we turned the ball over, which is absolutely uncharacteristic of our running back position. So there were some things that were disappointing in there and we shouldn’t have had to win it that way. But when you win games it’s not always necessarily that you win, sometimes it’s how you win. As we talk about building a foundation for Auburn as we go, this was another way we build. We were in uncharted waters. We had never been in an overtime. The circumstances were very unusual. But we found a way to win and I’m very proud of them for that.
On defending the last play …
Obviously with their kicker out there was a head’s up. We saw a different guy come in and we were looking at a formation that doesn’t look quite right. But people were yelling and talking. But for us to say that was a great coaching move is not right. The kids on the field recognized it. They had great awareness of what was going on. We are yelling it. We are seeing it. The players are 25-35 yards away from us so they really can’t hear us. My hat is off to all of those guys for recognizing what was going on and making a great play at the end. They just sold their bodies out to make the play.
On the number of players available at the end of the game …
By the end of the day we were looking for trainers and managers and anybody who could suit up to go in there because we didn’t have anybody left. We’re IV’ing people at halftime. We have 52 plays on defense at halftime, which is incredible. We weren’t sustaining any drives on offense long enough to keep them off the field. They did a great job of getting first downs . It was just the perfect storm.
But let me tell you something, look at Walter McFadden. They are going to block the kick at the end and he about knocks himself out because they run into everybody. But that’s the Auburn way. That’s the way those guys are. They are going to fight down to the end. They were carrying them off left and right. But they always found a way to get back up and go another snap. So again, I’m really proud of them.
On not seeing a holder on the last play …
It happened very, very fast. We were trying to figure out which guy was their next kicker. That’s a lot of moving parts and it happens fast down there. We obviously were aware that their kicker was carried off, so what’s the next thing? We talked to the players about that, and again it carried over for them and they were made aware of that.
On pressuring the Northwestern quarterback …
It was a little bit of a blitz. At times we were aggressive and at times we weren’t. Niko (Mafuli)came through. We had an all out blitz on and Nik came through on the one, but got a facemask penalty. Our defensive ends and our inside guys were getting good push on four-man pressures at times. At the end, there was no guru of Xs and Os or anything like that. That was effort. Our defensive effort at the end to keep them out of the end zone was extraordinary.
Have you ever been in a game like this with the thrill of victory and agony of defeat …
Absolutely not. I’ve been in some wild games that have come down to the end numerous times. But one that goes back and forth, did we win, did we not win? Reviewable plays. Is he down, is he not down? We didn’t know what to do. That was wild and crazy.
On adjusting to the Northwestern passing offense …
They throw the ball 70 times, if I’m correct. Going into the game we knew they’d try to run the ball some, but we also knew they were going to throw the football. They have a very controlled passing game. He gets the ball out very quick so we had to do a good job of disguising some things early in the game, which I thought we did a good job of. Any time you get five interceptions in a football game, there are some good things going on. Let’s be mindful that they threw 70-plus times. Did we always play great? No. The thing that is glaring to me is that we gave up the deep ball. Those are back breakers. We gave up the deep ball and we had a couple of pass interference calls. Those types of things are very hard to overcome. That kept us on the field which is why we are depleted in the secondary anyway, which is why we saw them moving the chains a little bit more and keep us off the field more than we would like to. We did have five interceptions and we tried to keep the ball in front of us the best we could.
On T’Sharvan Bell’s two interceptions …
I’m very proud of the team effort. He hasn’t played a lot. He was injured early in the season and had all kinds of issues with his knees and ankles. There was always something. We had to count on him today. We planned on him playing in the game but we didn’t plan on him playing as much as he did. He came in and he delivered. He played more than we anticipated him playing but he had to because of the nature of our secondary situation.
On Walter McFadden…
Walter is one of those guys who laid it on the line today. He is probably still laying out in the locker room right now. He is just another senior who stood up to the plate and delivered. A great Auburn man. We are going to miss him and he means a lot to our football team. He is a great young man. He is what Auburn is all about. I’m really proud of him and how he finished his senior year.
How important is it to win a game like this today …
It’s very big for our future. It’s very big for Auburn.
Outback Bowl MVP Darvin Adams, Auburn, WR
On making 12 catches …
I just appreciate all of the coaches, Coach [Gus] Malzahn and Chris [Todd], giving me a chance to catch all of those balls. The offensive line did a great job protecting him. I’m just glad everything worked out perfectly.
On the emotion and uncertainty at the end …
It was pretty tough going through all of that, at least three kicks. But it doesn’t matter now, because we won.
On the importance of winning the game …
It is very important. First of all, just to send the seniors out in a big way, and to get things started off in the right way for next year.
On winning MVP …
It means a lot to be the MVP of a bowl game. It’s not all me though. First of all I want to thank God. Next comes Chris [Todd] and the offensive linemen and the coaching staff.
On the relationship with quarterback Chris Todd …
Chris and I have done the extra things to get that relationship good between a receiver and a quarterback. I think it pays off a lot.
Did you make the catch that was called incomplete …
I think I did. I think I wrapped my arms around it, but the officials called it incomplete so we had to go with it.
Quarterback Chris Todd
On Outback Bowl MVP Darvin Adams:
“He’s been a huge playmaker for us all year long. He’s done a great job. Being able to trust a guy makes your life a lot easier as a quarterback. He made some big plays for us today.”
On the momentum swings in the game:
“I didn’t know what to think. Everybody kept fighting; the defense fought their butts off and did a great job. Everybody fought all the way to the end. I can’t me more proud of our guys.”
On winning the Outback Bowl:
“I think it’s a great way to really finish out a season. I’m very happy for all of our seniors the way it ended up and the way the rest of the team was behind us and fought to the end. I think its’ a great way to finish up the year.”
Defensive end Antonio Coleman
On quarterback Mike Kafka:
“He’s a great quarterback; you can’t take anything away from him. He had some big passes and great effort. He had a great game but we came out on top.”
On coming back to Auburn and winning the Outback Bowl:
“I took it tough last year, sending the season out like that. That’s why I came back, to turn this program around. Like I said before, it’s on the rise.”
On holding off the Wildcats in overtime:
“You can say we won the game three times, but it’s null and void. We had to get back out there. We can’t get out there and tell the referee what to do. They made the calls, we just got out there, we sucked it up and we won the ballgame.”
On his performance in the Outback Bowl:
“I was laying it all on the line, hurt back and everything. I just gave it all I got. I told the guys before we went out of the locker room just give me all you’ve got because I’m going to give you everything I’ve got. You’ve going to drag me off the field.”
Defensive back Walter McFadden
On his 100-yard interception return for a touchdown:
“On the 100 yard return, when they had No. 80 in the game, we knew that they were going to max protect and that’s when I get the post corner. I undercut the post corner and batted the ball to myself. I knew it had to be zipped in because it was a short distance. I tipped it up to myself and I happened to run it all the way back. When I was a sophomore I returned one 96 yards and as I was running I thought to myself ‘man, I broke the record’. I’m an Auburn man and I wanted
to be remembered.”
Tailback Ben Tate
On the future of the Auburn program:
“I see a great one, a very, very good future. Coach is bringing in some good recruits and the sky is the limit.”
On winning the Outback Bowl in overtime:
“We definitely had a little bit of luck, but we also worked hard.”
“They’re a good team, they fought hard and they never gave up.”
On the Auburn defense making a stop to end the game:
“I knew the defense was in good hands and Neiko (Thorpe) came up with a big play at the end and basically won the game for us.”
On fumbling in the fourth quarter:
“It was tough on me, knowing I fumbled it. It was more of, okay I fumbled, now what can I do to make up for this. How can I help my team win the game? That’s what I tried to do. I tried to concentrate and refocus and coach had faith in me and gave me the ball again in overtime, so I did what I had to do to help the team.”
On playing in a record-breaking Outback Bowl:
“It was a great game to be a part of and I think it will be a memorable game for a lot of people.”
Safety T’Sharvan Bell
On the defense forcing Mike Kafka to throw five interceptions:
“I give credit to the defensive line. They had him moving around and very uncomfortable back there. I told them if you get pressure on the quarterback we’ll make plays in the secondary.”
On intercepting to Kafka passes:
“They called my number and I saw the ball in the air and made plays when I had to.”
Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald
First and foremost to the entire Outback committee, City of Tampa and all the great volunteers, I couldn’t have asked for a better week and a greater experience for our football family that is absolutely amazing and for that we will forever be indebted, forever be grateful. We have 21 great seniors that will have a deep wound that would heal. It will get better. It will improve. But that’s the heart of the Wildcat right there and that was one heck of a fight and one heck of a battle. You probably read the quote from me earlier in the month, we are coming down here to win. We felt like our stars were align at the end and we lost Stefan. That was one of Coach (Randy) Walker’s favorite plays at the end. We played for the win but fell a little short. One heck of a game. Congratulations to Gene, Auburn University and the football team. It was a great battle. We are going to find a way to climb over this mountain top. We are not there yet but I believe we took a step forward today. We are still not there yet and to that, it is disappointing.
As far as words about the seniors… I don’t have enough time to talk about them. They mean the world to me and the program and we will be forever indebted to them. To coaching staff, wives, virtue of athletics, our president, our administration, all of our fans that were here today sticking through thick and thin, we cannot thank you enough for the support or your sacrifice. We will heal up our wounds and go home and enjoy the New Year. We will be on the road as coaches finishing up recruiting a great class. It may be the best class we have. I cannot wait to get to winter workouts here in a couple of weeks. With that, Happy New Year and Go ‘Cats.
Did you have a backup kicker and if he makes the field goal in overtime, do you take the points of the board and take the penalty?
We do have a backup kicker in Steve Flarherty and hasn’t kicked but maybe one kick all year. So when stuff went down we felt to put ourselves in position to go for it and that’s what we did. Yes, like I said, we were playing for the win. Without a doubt.
Describe final play a little more and exactly what you did…
It was a modern day fumble-roosky. We were trying to sneak Zeke [Markshausen] out the back door and Auburn did a nice job of defending it. It looked like we were a little quick. We wanted to hold it a few seconds and get them to see our motion, our shift and they did a great job defending it.
When did you realize you were going to go with that play…
About a nanosecond before I did it. I had it my back pocket for four years. People tell me I’m too conservative so I said what the heck, we are here to win so let’s go. I would do it again but next time I would score and we would be celebrating.
I asked Mike (Kafka) two or three days ago, fourth and goal, end of the game, do you have a play? He said yes we do but I can’t tell you but it’s definitely a pass. If you could have ran that in overtime do you think that’s the game right there?
Hindsight would be 20/20. There were so many things in this game. If you want to talk about every element, we had rain, we had a glimpse of sun, turnovers, big plays, big plays in the kicking game, bad plays, turnovers on our end and missed assignments, so there is a lot to fix and a lot to correct. We take it squarely on our shoulders as coaches. We didn’t find a way to win. We didn’t get the job done. We have got to do a better job to give our guys the ball and that’s why they call us coaches. It’s disappointing. I am very frustrated from my end in the job that I did for our players. But I promised I will get it fixed.
What’s it like in the locker room now?...
It’s down. It’s a deep wound and a wound hurts. But the wound will heal. What our 21 seniors will take away as a group, is that it has responded from as much adversity has any group of seniors has in the country. Think about what they have been able to accomplish…get us the third most wins in school history and that’s pretty special. You saw their fight in what they played today.
Condition of kicker? Definitely out for the rest of the game…
I was told he was done.
Kafka characteristics today, throwing picks…
I think he would want some throws back. Mike is the reason why we’re here and Mike is the reason why we got into overtime and the chance to win the game. You’ve got to tip your hat to him. You’ve got to think about how far he has come in the last four years, I couldn’t be more proud of Mike. He is a fighter. I hope the NFL sees the same thing I see. A young man with a big time arm who I think just going to continue to get better.
Did you practice the quick fumble-roosky recently…
For a month.
Did you discuss it with anyone else before you made that decision…
No. That is my call. Go back and check your facts. I said a month ago, we’d play to win. I’d do it again, and twice on Sunday.
I talked with your offensive coordinator before the game and he expected some man-to-man. Did you hit a lot more man-to-man than you thought you would...
No, they stayed pretty true to their form. There were tweaks on both sides that they had. But at the end of the day we saw what we expected to see and Gene would probably say he saw what he expected to see. In bowl game you can’t untrick yourselves.
Was it Zeke who ran the ball on that play…
The way we had it this time, Yes.
Adjustments at halftime …
I don’t think we weren’t moving balls on offense, we just stopped ourselves with tough turnovers. Two turnovers in the red zone really took points off the board and is probably a different outcome. You talk about staying the course, executing, continuing to fight and keep on swinging and that’s what our young men did. Being down 14, we have been there before. I think we have been down 23. There is no quit in our guys, especially with their attitude. Credit goes to Auburn, they made plays early and we didn’t, but we kept on fighting and we down 14 with four minutes left in the fourth. Big plays were made all over the place.
Quarterback Mike Kafka
On his record five interceptions in the Outback Bowl:
“On one of them the DB made a great play. On the one before the half I should have thrown it away. It’s just one of those things, and like I say, I’ll grow from it. I wish I had them back but Auburn made the plays that needed to be made, so hats off to them.”
On losing to Auburn in overtime:
“A loss is a loss anyway you put it, it’s a loss. If you take care of the football a little better, and I take full responsibility of that. We just needed to make plays and we didn’t.”
On the Northwestern defense:
“Our defense played great. They made some big plays, the big fumble, to stay in the game, some timely picks. I think we just needed to capitalize on a lot of the things that we did, and not spot 14 points to a team early in the game. That’s killed us, and I think all season that’s kind of what we’ve done and it’s really bit us and luckily we’ve been able to pull it out. But today, against a good team like that, we weren’t able to.”
On tight end Drake Dunsmore’s 66-yard touchdown:
“That was just the man making a play. Drake made a great play. It was man coverage, it was a one-on-one battle and he won and put it down the sideline. It was a great play.”
On going for the win in overtime:
“I know it was a good call. We had them. We were one tackle away, one yard away. In the end that’s all there is to it. Coach Fitz had that call and we all were excited. They sniffed it out and they got it, so you’ve got to give them credit because they made a big play.”
Defensive end Corey Wootton
On coming back against Auburn and having a chance to win:
“There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to win that game. It came down to a couple of plays. I thought we were going to get it at the end of the game with the field goal, but it didn’t work out that way. When we were driving on the last play, that little fake play we have, I thought we were going to have it, but we came up a yard short.”
On the final play in overtime:
“I feel like it was a great call. I definitely didn’t think they expected it, but they had run something similar to that, so they kind of ran out as soon as the play was snapped. I was blocking the guy, I was trying to force him to the sideline and he ended up making the play. We had worked on it all week and we knew what we were going to do, we just came out short.”
On the series of calls late in the game and in overtime:
“It was crazy. It’s good for the fans, that type of excitement, but it’s not good for us. Whenever you have a game like that, it’s tough for the players.”
On finishing his career at Northwestern:
“My experience here at Northwestern has been amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’m so glad I came here. I love each and every one of the members on the football team and these seniors have done a tremendous job. It’s something I’ll remember forever.”
Cornerback Sherrick McManis
On Coach Fitzgerald’s decision to go for the win in overtime:
“It’s a decision that he made which I thought was a good one. If we would have made it, it would have been a great decision. It’s a play we had and it could have worked.”
On the back and forth nature of the game:
“The whole time I believe everybody on the sideline believed we could win this game, we were going to win this game, and it just didn’t turn out this way.”
On quarterback Mike Kafka:
“Mike Kafka is a warrior. He’s always going to keep continuing to fight and he always puts us in position to win the game at the end, which he did.”
Tight end Drake Dunsmore
On coming back to take the game to overtime:
“We never lost hope. We felt we were going to win.”
On the turning point in the game:
“Drew’s (Andrew Brewer) catches were both huge momentum swings for us. There were so many turning points in this game.”
On his 66-yard touchdown to pull the Wildcats even in the third quarter:
“When you’re in the heat of the play you really don’t think about it. If you’re still on your feet you keep going the direction of the end zone, and that’s what I did.”
On going for the win in overtime:
We practiced that play all year. I loved it, I loved that call. It’s kind of a chaos play by design. I’m not really in on that play, so I don’t know if they broke it too early or not. I thought he was going to make it.”