Sept. 6, 2008
Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
"We made some plays. I thought Chris (Todd) played well. He made good decisions the first half. We got a little lackadaisical in the third quarter, but sometimes you lean on your defense a little too much. I thought the defense hung in there well, but we gave up some plays.
Southern Miss is a good football team. Their receivers are going to give a lot of people problems. They really gave us problems. They ran good routes, they're big, they're physical and I thought we were pretty fortunate at times to make plays. We were out there 75 plays on defense, and I thought we got stronger there at the end of the game. We started making plays. We were playing the ball better. It was a good learning experience for all of our defense. Robert Dunn, what can you say, I think he set a return for return yardage. We made a foolish penalty there behind the ball blocking below the waist on the second punt return that should have been a touchdown. Our kicking game is getting better. I am really proud of our players that came back and bounced back. They heard a lot of things, especially on offense, that they should be doing.
You have to have a sense of urgency. We were much, much better this week. I am very proud of the coaches and players on how we practiced and how we prepared. Now, we get ready for SEC play."
On Auburn's turnovers
"It kept them in the game. That is part of it. Hopefully, we got it out of our system. Eric Smith's fumble right there at the end is a true no-no when you are trying to run the clock out. We gave them an opportunity to possibly get back in the game. We learned from all of these situations with our young guys playing. We fumbled twice today in the red zone. We have to get better. Last year, I think in the second game we played we turned it over a lot of times and couldn't win the game. We turned it over a few times, but our defense stood up and kept us in the ball game and got the ball back in good field position. It was a good team game. It was truly a team game."
On Chris Todd
"He played most of the game. Kodi (Burns) got a little lackadaisical. You can't come in and do what he did. Every snap in college football is important. He took it for granted that he could throw the ball downfield. It got tipped and it was a good lesson learned. You don't play much when you do that. You have to stay focus. When you go into the game, you have to have a sense of urgency like everybody else. You learn from those situations. Chris did a good job, and barring anything happening, he will be our starter next week."
On rushing the ball
"We rushed for over 100 (yards) which is a necessity in this offense. I thought we ran the ball hard. We're getting better in the running schemes. We're controlling the ball better and the backs are running hard. Sometime, they stand up too long and get the ball stripped. Holding them to 37 yards (rushing) is huge. It forces them to throw the ball down the field. They made some plays, but we also picked a few passes off and that was the difference in the ball game."
On Robert Dunn's punt returns
"He is smarter. Last year at about midseason, he started to understand how to get the ball north and south and use his blockers. Playing a punt returner with the experience factor is as a quarterback."
Zac Etheridge, SS
On second start under defensive coordinator Paul Rhoads' 'It feels great. Coach Rhoads had a great day. We've been doing well. Every day in practice we learn more. He's a great coach and every day he's into it. He makes us work hard. That's why we're playing like we are.'
On youth in Auburn defensive backfield'
'The young guys are coming along great and they're making tackles around the ball. They see how the older guys are playing and they are trying to play like we are. I like when they help us compete. '
On guarding USM receiver DeAndre Brown' 'He's a great receiver who was recruited by a lot of SEC schools. Going against him was tough because of his height. We don't usually see a lot of receivers as tall as him. It's great to go up against a guy like that.'
Chris Todd, QB
On first start as Auburn quarterback'
'I was excited. I tried to come out and lead the team, take care of the ball and be smart.'
On this week's performance'
'Last week we came out and threw a lot in the first half. This week everyone was ready to go and we moved the ball better.'
Sen'Derrick Marks, DL
On holding Southern Miss to 37 yards rushing' 'It takes all 11 to shut down the run game like that, not just with one man or with one line. We hit them right in the middle and that's what shut them down.'
On pressuring Southern Miss' quarterback' 'He's a nice cat. We couldn't get to him all the time. We just kept trying to get that one shot.'
On the second week under Coach Rhoads'
'Anytime you run something the second time, you are going to get better. We're just trying to go out there and set the tempo and speed the game. We'll keep getting better. Every game we are going to play better than the game before. We are going to play our best in the bowl game.'
Jerraud Powers, DB
On his diving 4th quarter diving interception..
'We were in quarters coverage. My job was not to give up the deep ball in my quarter of the field. I saw DeAndre Brown coming over to my side and I knew that he was a big threat. I had a feeling that they were trying to beat me deep.'
On the Southern Miss spread offense'
'It was tough. I thought starting off that we did a very good job. It was similar to our offense in how they threw the ball. Going against our offense this past preseason, we were used to it so it wasn't a big surprise. We came out in the third quarter flat and they started making some plays.'
On second game with Coach Rhoads'
'We are all starting to feel more confident as we go along. Coach is getting more confident with his players and his game calling. It's fun. He gets excited on Saturdays, like he has a helmet on.'
Jason Bosley, OL
On the performance of the offense'
'I thought we threw the ball better. We came out with a better tempo. We fumbled a couple of times, which is never good, but that can get fixed in practice. I thought we came out well, and we just have to keep working on getting better.'
On movement from center to right tackle' 'I'm going to do what's best for the team. Ryan Pugh and I are basically interchangeable there, so we switched it up today. I thought I did pretty well for my first game at tackle.'
Tristan Davis, RB
On his first touchdown of the season'
'I was excited when I got into the game. They called a pull. When I saw Tyronne (Green) pull around, I knew it was going to be open. I hit the hole as hard as I could and I bounced outside.'
On preparing for next week's SEC matches'
'We've got to eliminate turnovers and continue to play hard. We've got to make our blocks and catch the ball.'
On offensive performance today'
'We were playing pretty well, but we made a couple mistakes as far as turning the ball over goes. But other than that, we did what we said we were going to do.'
Southern Miss Post-Game Notes
Head coach Larry Fedora
"Obviously we are disappointed with the loss. I was disappointed in the way that we executed. I was pleased with the way defense hung in there the entire game; they forced four turnovers. They did a great job; they were out on the field a long time, especially in the first half."
"I was disappointed with the way the offense executed in the first half. I think we were a little big eyed in some situations. I was disappointed in our return teams. We didn't get much done on special teams to be honest. We gave up some big plays, but overall what I am proud about is that these guys played the entire game and all the way to the end. I don't feel like they ever thought they couldn't get it done. They just kept fighting."
On the drive right before half time...
"It was disappointing. We had that holding call that backed us up and then we missed the field goal. We needed to put points on the board."
On the first half's tempo...
"I was bewildered on the communications problems that we had. It wasn't' the noise, but it was basic things that we do every single day. That's why I think we had a little bit of big eyed syndrome. We'll go back into practice and work. We have a long way to go and a lot of room for improvement."
On quarterback Austin Davis...
"In the first half he didn't have a lot of opportunities to throw the ball, but in the second half the offense started worrying about themselves and not what was going on on the other side of the ball. There are a couple of balls that I wish we could have back. I thought he did a nice job rolling out of the pocket and avoiding pressure and getting the ball where it needed to go."
On the opportunities to score...
"We put ourselves in a position to win, but Auburn is the No. 9 team in the country. Our players would tell you that they're disappointed in the way that we executed because we felt like we shot ourselves in the foot a lot of times. That's not to take anything away from what Auburn did because they are a very good football team."
On communication problems...
"We didn't have a single communication problem in the first game, but we had quite a few in the first half of this game. I don't know if it was focus; I don't know what the problem was."
How will this game prepare the team prepare them for conference games?
"There's no doubt about it. I told the team that we will learn a lot from this game. We are not that far away, as long as we do the things that we need to do to take care of the ball. We didn't have to do anything special or extra ordinary; we just needed to do what we need to do and we didn't do that. That was disappointing."
On the freshmen stepping up, especially of Austin Davis and DeAndre Brown...
"Both of those players, the last time they played was in high school. Each snap and each rep that they get, they are going to mature as the season goes on. They both have a long way to go, but you have to be pleased with the direction that they are headed."
On tight end Shawn Nelson's performance...
"He did what Shawn Nelson can do. He should make plays like that in a game like this. He should make plays like that every game because he has that ability. He's a good football player and when we have the opportunity to get him the ball we need to because he can make plays for us like he did today."
Quarterback Austin Davis
On completing 10 of his first 11 passes...
"I was just trying to get in a rhythm and throw a lot of short stuff and try to open up the running game with the pass because when we came in here we knew that they were going to try to take the running game away from us."
Why were there so many short passes early in the game...
"We are always going to try short completion passes to move the ball down the field. They did a good job of getting there and making the tackle. We tried to get it out there and make guys miss."
On the difference between the first and second half...
"We got in the way of ourselves in the first half and made execution mistakes. All of that comes back on me really. In the second half we settled down and did what we could do by moving the ball. That's something we look forward to."
On communication problems...
"We practiced for it for crowd noise. I thought we did a good job; maybe one or two [communication errors] in the first half. We had some miscommunications, but other than that, I thought we communicated well."
Executing on offense following the turnovers...
"We had a chance to win the game. They didn't beat us. They played a good game, but I think we beat ourselves more than anything. That's something we can work on and get better at."
Linebacker Gerald McRath
On creating so many turnovers and not having the offense capitalize...
"That's the game. You have to play through adversity. Coach said there are only so many things you can do up to that point. You have to keep fighting and things are going to happen. On Auburn's opening drive, it looks like they are going to score and we cause a turnover. Throughout the whole game you have to stay positive."
Did you feel like you were out on the field forever in the first half?
"It's the second game of the year and you're still trying to get acclimated to playing 15 minute quarters. In practice, you're moving around a lot but you get some down time. Coming to a game you're still trying to get in a rhythm."
Tight end Shawn Nelson
On first half receptions...
"I was pretty excited. In the spread you throw a lot and I found the soft spots in the zone. The defense played good, we just didn't finish on offense."
On the offense's frustration following turnovers...
"Our defense played great; they caused a lot of turnovers, but we didn't execute. We're a young team and we will get better."
Did you feel as if this was your best game of your career?
"Receiving wise, yes, but I always want to be a complete player. I go out every day and practice hard. I need to work on my blocking."