Sept. 3, 2011
Auburn Locker Room
Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik
"Obviously, any time you can get a win no matter how you can get it you have to be pleased with that. I was pleased with a very young team being able to fight through a lot of adversity and persevere through times that didn't look very good to be honest, but our kids as they have done so many times since we've been here they have found a way to come back and win. That is really good to see in our young guys. I think again that has kind of been instilled in this group that you never look at the clock and the scoreboard until it says 0:00. So in that regard we are thrilled that we came out with the win today. No question about it, I think it is obvious that everybody that saw the game realizes that we did not play well as a football team. There are no excuses for that. We just didn't play well. I think it was very evident that our most experienced part of our football team is our special teams. I don't think there is any question that offensively and defensively we are a long way off from being able to win very many games right now. Special teams-wise we have a lot of confidence and they played with a little bit of a swagger and rightly so. I think it was evident today in our kickoff return team even though it was Tre Mason back there, a young guy. We have a lot of guys on there that have done it before and we have some good yards on our kickoff returns. Our punt team was excellent. Cody Parkey was outstanding. The best that I have seen in a long time in kickoffs which is a field position issue that you can't get enough of those. So, that is a great situation with our kickoff team plus our coverage was great on our kickoff team. We are still a little ways off on our punt returns but as you can see as I said before to win the game with the game on the line, we do an onside kick which we work routinely, and it pretty much unfolded exactly the way you would draw it up. So, those are the things that I take from the game that are positive. We spent a lot of time on two minute offense coming down to the end of the game and managing the clock and trying to win the game at the end. We spend a lot of time on that. I thought that was evident today but if you remove those things from the game, if you look at us defensively, we looked like a defense that was extremely young against an offense that had a lot of people back. We didn't play well period. No excuses. I thought it was a very poor defensive effort. That's not acceptable here at Auburn so I fully expect us to rectify that next week. Offensively, I thought the same for much of the game. I think finally in the last quarter or so we actually looked like an offense that is a college offense. Other than that I did not, and that is how I feel about it. So, we have a lot of work to do. I'm thrilled to have a win. I'm thrilled to come out on top. That was a good football team. They did a great job. They played probably a perfect game. Their game plan they executed to a `T.' But again, my hat's off to my players and coaches for finding a way to come back and win at the end. That's what matters so we've got a lot of improvement to do as everybody that saw the game knows, and that's what our aim is going to be before we start out in conference play next week."
On Barrett Trotter's first start
"Well, the fourth quarter was really good to see. The game was on the line, and we had to take two scores down there with one time out on the board. We squandered two time outs earlier in the half. We went down with one time out and were very cognizant of making sure we were going to manage the clock. He made some clutch throws. Some guys made some clutch catches and did some things with the ball in their hands after the catch mainly Travante Stallworth and Onterio McCalebb when the game was on the line which does not surprise me that it was those two. But, Barrett, I thought had his moments. He is certainly going to see the film and know that he can play much better. I thought there were some receivers open that we could have hit and there were times where he had some undo pressure and that is an offensive line slash back in protection issue. So, overall we won the game. I'm definitely not pleased with a lot of areas of our offense or our defense."
Is that something you can fix or do they just have to grow into it?
"I think they have to grow up. I think that there are a lot of moving parts in your first game for young guys and we will get better and again, it is going to be a journey for these guys. I think today in one point in the game, we had counted somewhere between 20 and 22 new guys that were playing a pretty significant role on the field, which is a lot of people. But again, it is not an excuse."
On Chris Brooks' onside kick that Emory Blake recovered
"On our onside kicks, we always have two designated catchers with him (Emory Blake) being one of them. We don't know exactly where the ball is going to land, but we have kickers that work it relentlessly in practice. We work it several times a week. Work it all the way through two-a-days. We've been doing the same one for three years, and I don't know off the top of my head our onside kick track record right now, but it is pretty good."
On Travante Stallworth's first start
"I'm really proud of Travante. Again, I said earlier in the week, he's a savvy player. He finds ways to find holes in the defense. Today it was really good to see him do something with the ball in his hands after the catch. I think again he's had to overcome a lot of things injury-wise, and I couldn't be more proud of the way he's come on and again, I thought he was a significant part in helping us win today."
Were you surprised today at how far off you looked from being able to win a lot of games?
"Obviously, there were times when I really felt like we could have played better as a whole. I'm not going to measure the magnitude of how far off we are. I just know that performance today on offense and defense won't win us many games. So again as I just told our team, our biggest improvement has got to be between week one and two and two and three. So again, if we are going to win football games in this league, there is going to have to be significant improvement by this time next week."
How much do you think the defense missed Eltoro Freeman today?
"Without a doubt we are going to be happy to get Eltoro back next week, but that was not the issue."
Was the problem on defense getting people lined up correctly?
"Well, they were doing a lot of moving and shifting and trading which we felt like they would do that. So, some of it was that. Some of it is we probably weren't as physical at the point of attack that we needed to be and again, that's going to be young guys learning how to play out there, and it is going to have to be the older guys getting us lined up. So, it is probably a multitude of issues for as poor of a defensive performance as that was."
On Michael Dyer coming off the bench and providing a spark
"Again, we feel like running back situation-wise right now, we have the majority of our carries right now will be between Onterio (McCalebb), Michael Dyer and Tre Mason. So, we are going to use them as we see fit and as we need. Don't read into who is the starter, who's not. That's not the deal. Those are the guys that are going to get the carries when we see what the defense is giving us, and we will use those guys and utilize them at the right spots and the right times to do whatever we need to get accomplished. Today, Michael came in and gave us a spark. I think he had a couple of touchdowns in there, but I thought he was trying to run the ball physical and downhill."
On Tre Mason's kickoff return
"There is no question about it. Again, going back to one of the strengths of our team is our special teams. Tre has shown an incredible amount of savvy on kickoff returns in the preseason. He was really good at it in high school. He has a lot of courage back there. He doesn't get rattled with a lot of different things. We felt like he would have a chance to break one. Again, he has a knack for that. A lot of times at that position, that is what it takes."
Quarterback Barrett Trotter
On driving late in the game..."We practice it all the time. We just needed to be smart and protect the ball. We couldn't get nervous. We practice this all the time at the end of practice. I can't tell you how many times we have done it, but we stayed calm and poised. That is what our coaches stressed."
On his first comeback win..."It hasn't really hit me yet. I'm sure once I get home and really think about it, it will. We hurt ourselves getting behind. If we had played like we did at the end of the game all game long, it really shouldn't have been close. That is something we will fix throughout the week in practice."
Wide Receiver Emory Blake
On today's game..."It was a great win. There is a lot of work to be done. I'm ready to get back to practice."
On his 54-yard touchdown reception..."It was a man defense. I ran a simple route, turned around and the safety was there. I made a little move on him and I picked up some great blocks downfield."
On recovering the onside kick..."That's something we've worked on every week, Chris Brooks and I. Our guys picked up the people they needed to and I came down with the ball."
Running Back Tre Mason
On his debut as an Auburn Tiger..."I'm just happy we came out with this win. I told coach I was going to give it my all in special teams. I've been returning kicks since the seventh grade and I told my mom I would keep the tradition running."
On his kickoff return for a touchdown..."We did it as one unit. It wasn't just me that took it to the house. Everyone did their assignment and it was wide open. The hole took me to the prairie land and I was gone."
Kicker Chris Brooks
On ever having to kick an onside kick in a situation like today's..."I haven't been in a situation like that since high school, but obviously it wasn't this type of deal. This was big. I have been preparing for this for three years. We have worked on it and we executed."
On emotions leading up to the onside kick..."I really didn't have any time to think about it. I had been warming up on the bench and I was told we were going for an onside kick. It is hard to explain. I didn't have anything going through my head. I don't even remember kicking the ball. I just remember Emory coming down with the ball. I was the first one to find Emory down the field. I knew he couldn't advance it. I just took off with him. It was awesome."
Defensive End Nosa Eguae
On his thoughts coming down the stretch of the game..."We knew what we had to do. We went out there and knew it was a passing situation that last drive. We knew we had to get after them."
On winning the season opener..."It was the first game of the season, so we knew we would see a lot that we haven't seen on film. We listened to our coaches and made plays in the second half, but we are not where we need to be. We have a big game next week, and that's what we will focus on. It was nice just to go out there and finish a game like we learned to last year. That is what it is all about. Everybody works hard during two-a-days but it is all about finishing."
On Auburn's special teams..."Our special teams coach (Jay Boulware) is the best in the country. When you have guys that do that type of stuff and believe in it, you know you are going to get the ball back. You know the offense is going to get the ball back, and get a shot to take the win."
Safety Erique Florence
On the comeback and building off the win..."We know we are an extremely young team, and we have to rely some on our special teams since we didn't have a lot of returning starters on offense or defense. We took a lot of pride in special teams during camp. The young guys came in with the mindset that we have to play right away and contribute where they need us."
On his debut as a Tiger..."It was wild at first. After sitting back and watching last year and wanting to be a part of it. Seeing all the fans going crazy was a great experience. You don't really know how it is going to feel going from high school to a big college playing in a bowl stadium until you experience it."
Wide Receiver Travante Stallworth
On his performance today..."First off, I would just like to thank God. He did it all for me. He is the one that had me healthy and the coaches prepared me the right way, so I just thank the Lord for everything."
On his 39-yard touchdown catch..."Coach Malzahn knew what they were in and called the right play. I just put my abilities to the play and made somebody miss and scored. I was really excited after that.
On coming back off of an injury..."My knee felt great, everybody was coming up to me on the sideline and we were talking about how I looked like the old Stallworth, which gave me even more confidence."
On how this game will prepare them for the rest of the season..."Everything I did today wasn't perfect. I'm just going to get back into the film room and let the coaches coach us up because we have a big game next week."
Kicker Cody Parkey
On his kickoff performance today..."Injuries last year were holding me back. I really worked hard in the weight room and coach Yoxall worked on getting me stronger, rehabbing everything and my leg feels great. I've been working on really exploding the ball because you know when I'm getting touchbacks, everybody on our kickoff team is either a starter on offense or defense, so that is less they have to run and more that they can hustle hard on offense or defense . I'm just trying to do my part."
On his first start... "It was good I was just glad to get the jitters out. The game almost came down to a field goal and you know we were ready. We've been practicing that all year, so it was definitely good to get that first start."
Center Reese Dismukes
On his first collegiate start..."It was fun just going out there, we started off kind of slow but we ended up with a win in the end. We really gelled a lot together there at the end. We have been spending a lot of time on the two-minute drill in practice and it came to pay off."
On what his first start felt like..."It was a great feeling. I've never felt anything like that before. It was an unreal feeling for me to just go out there and play. It was so much fun."
On the last two drives..."We just went out there and did our thing. I wasn't really worried. We were definitely prepared for this kind of situation. Usually I would have been kind of nervous, but we just went out there at the end and it just clicked."
Utah State Locker Room
Head Coach Gary Anderson
On Auburn loss..."Well, it's obviously a disappointing loss. The players fought hard and played hard. In the defining moments, Auburn executed, we couldn't execute. I think if you sit down and look at it again, it's not lack of effort or lack of want-to. It is tremendous athletes. If you watch this game as the field spread, obviously Auburn has tremendous athletes. It became very hard for us to defend. It became very hard for us to block them when the field got spread out. I credit that to their tremendous athletes, really, at the end of the day. A very disheartening loss, we pulled out everything we possibly could. We gave every fake in every fourth down scenario. We executed every one of those. We failed to execute a gigantic play on the onside kick to pretty much win the game. We'll bounce back. This is a good team. I think we were more physical. It's a positive. For us to come in here and play that well physically is a positive. In the run game and the passing game, they were more physical than us. They were pass-rushing very well and we could not block them when they pinned their ears back and came around the edges. There is no question that it was a big factor in the game, in my opinion. Us being able to get a pass-rush and when they had to get a pass-rush they were able to get the pass rush. I thought the offense was basically exceptional all day long. They did exactly what they had to do to win the game. Special teams and defense at the end did not."
On Chuckie Keeton..."Chuckie is a special player. I promise you no one is hurt more, even though he has been with us for a short period of time. His fortitude, competiveness and toughness - you saw it. You saw exactly how he played as a true freshman. I think we are in very good hands at the quarterback position just as we felt as we continued through camp. I love Chuckie Keeton. I have loved Chuckie Keeton since I walked into his living room."
On special teams play..."You guys have to understand how athletic Auburn is. If you cannot see that out there on the football field, understand that this is the SEC and the tremendous athletes they have out there on the football field. It is not an excuse in any shape or form, it is a credit to them and their recruiting that they've done in their program. They are faster, physical, long, aggressive. They have tremendous people running down on kickoffs. They have tremendous people on kickoff return. I could go on and on and on. Guy makes a great play. It's a great kick on an onside kick. The guy rises above us and gets the ball. Is it right? I'm not saying it's right. Could we have done better? Yes, we could have. Auburn has some special men in their program and you have to understand that. That's what our strategy was, we have to take chances. We took chances on fourth down, it's the exact same reason why we came in an understood that we have to be able to power the ball. We have to be physical with them and knock them around. That's what we believed that we had to do to be able to stay in the football game. In the first half we played very well. We played 20-reps especially on the defensive side of the football and we hung in there, but we gave up a kickoff return that was huge."
On controlling the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game..."I think a couple things will go into that. There were probably a couple things that they have not seen scheme-wise as far as out front. We changed a little bit. I'm sure it was a little bit of a scenario for them. Auburn is big and physical and they are moving around, but our mindset was that we had to come in. That (Michael) Dyer kid is a tremendous athlete. We felt like we had to control the inside and that was a must and it was a heavy emphasis for us. They tried to get it out to the outside and did some good things at times, but we ran the ball well on the outside. The run game at the end of the day also kept us in the game, but obviously it did not win the game for us. Our inability to tackle in space is what loss the game for us, but I am very proud of the physical nature that our players brought on both sides of the football and I am not real happy on the way we rushed the passer and protected the passer."
On what to take away from this game..."The biggest thing we are going to take away from this game is we are done taking moral victories and are almost there. There is none of that. We expected to come in here and play very well. We expected to put ourselves in a good position late in the fourth quarter. We will build from it and learn from it. We will know exactly where we sit, and I expect this to be a very good football team. This is hard to swallow. Opportunities like this do not come around every day. We let it slip away from us, but every single week, whether we win or lose, we will learn and we will push forward. We expect to move forward and improve in the areas that we were deficient in today."
Linebacker Bobby Wagner
On what they will take from this game heading into the rest of the season..."That we can compete with anybody, but for the defensive team to not step up when their name is called we are going to continue to lose like this, and I put that solely on my shoulders."
What it is going to take from them to finish out games... "It will take everybody coming out and being ready to play in every aspect of the ball, offense, defense and special teams. This game came down to defense and we did not step up."
On their physical dominance throughout most of the game..."I felt like we were stronger than them. I felt like we were faster than them, but I felt like they made plays when they needed to, and we did not."
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton
Opening statement ..."Coming out, we had to have high intensity. We did our job. Right out of the gate, we came out hard and we scored on our second possession. It doesn't matter, we didn't win. The only objective is to win. It doesn't matter how many yards we racked up or points we scored if we don't win. We definitely took strides today to get where we need to be. All we can do is go up hill from here."
On first career start in an SEC environment ..."I really wasn't too nervous. I knew the guys around me had my back. I just came in as focused as I could be and tried to get the ball into our receivers' hands. Ultimately, we just didn't do what we needed to do."
On what Utah State will take away from a loss to Auburn ..."The biggest thing, now, is that we need to finish. We played three and a half quarters and we just couldn't get the last half of the fourth quarter, so all we need to do is just finish. With this team we can definitely win the WAC championship."
Running Back Robert Turbin
Opening statement ..."Obviously, we had the game won, up 10 with about four minutes to go in the game. It was an obvious onside kick situation and we didn't execute."
On Chuckie Keeton's performance ..."He did a great job. You're talking about an 18-year-old true freshman who is coming straight out of high school and not only playing at the Division I level, but being on the road and playing against the defending BCS National Champions. To perform the way he did just shows that he has a great career ahead of him."On making sure this type of situation is not a recurrence ..."I have to lead better. You can't put it all on the coaches. We practice over and over with onside kick situations. I am on the hands team. We have been over it countless times and we just have to do a better job and be more prepared."
On what to take away from a tough loss ..."Just win. For the rest of the season, the focus and mindset is going to be nothing else, but just to win. I don't think you understand how much this game hurt to be up 10 with four minutes to go with the defending BCS National Champions on the ropes. The focus right now is to win, period."