Auburn vs. South Florida - Post-Game Quotes
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AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Sept. 9, 2007

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Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
"It was a good effort. We made a little improvement. We played a good football team, and I thought our guys hung in there well. We just didn't execute well enough tonight to win."

(On why you let the clock run out and go to overtime):
"We didn't want to turn the ball over like we did the time before. They were dropping everybody off into coverage. If we threw the ball into that coverage and they intercept it, then they get a chance to try to win. We thought we had a better chance in overtime."

(Is that the case of you not having confidence in your fifth-year senior quarterback?)
"I think anybody would have done the same thing in that situation. You don't throw the ball up for grabs with 30 seconds to go and take the chance of having someone intercept it and run it back."

On improving Auburn's offense
"Obviously, we need to make some changes, and we will do that. That's what we need to do as coaches. It is just unfortunate that we didn't take advantage of some opportunities. That's just the way it goes. You have to give them credit. They played a very good game defensively. They took advantage of opportunities and had good team speed. We just need to move the ball better than that and score more points. We figured we needed to score 30 points to win.

"You play tough competition. You have to go out and play. The toughest thing about this is we got so beat up. We lost another linebacker and another safety. We were so beat up we played our second team linebackers and secondary in the second half. There are no excuses. Our defense fought hard. We can win the way we are playing defensively.

"In the kicking game, we made the one breakdown on the kickoff return. I will have to look at the film. It looked like we had some problems getting off the block. We have to get better offensively. We are not consistent. People are stacking the line of scrimmage and we are not making plays down the field. We just have to get better."

AUBURN PLAYERS

Quentin Groves, DE
On what Auburn can take away from this game...
"One word, perseverance. We fought as hard as we could and we came up short. I think we shot ourselves in the foot too much. If we don't do that, there are not many teams that can hold us."

On being able to hold USF to field goals...
"That's really important to us. We are told to go out and play football and that's what we as a defense did tonight. If we are on our game and play our game to the best of our abilities we will play defense like we did for most of the night and force field goals. It's good to know that when we are needed most we can keep the ball out of the end zone."

Zac Etheridge, SS On how injuries factored into tonight's game...
"We had a lot of guys go down, but it wasn't as much of a factor as it could have been because we had a lot of guys step up. We also had a lot of young guys come and make plays for us."

On South Florida's ability to run the ball...
"They ran really well. We could've stopped them, we just needed to execute better than we did. Their ability to pass the ball was also something that we had trouble with for a lot of the game."

On taking this game into SEC play...
"We just have to work hard. We have a lot of room to improve. We have to go out on the practice field this week and get ready for Mississippi State."

Wes Byrum, K On his placekicking tonight...
"I just went out there and did my part. The offense kept putting me in position to make those kicks and kept getting me in my range. I just wanted to get the job done."

On the overtime kick...
"It's the same thing, I just wanted to get the job done and put three in for the team."

Robert Dunn, WR
On his performance tonight...
"I did horrible, we lost. I'm not out for any individual awards. We lost as a team and we have to improve."

On the South Florida defense...
"They are great team. They grinded out the whole game and came at us with everything they had. They were a really fast team."

On coming to work on Sunday...
"We just have to come in Sunday, hit the film room and get ready for Mississippi State and SEC play."

Gabe McKenzie, TE
On his touchdown...

"It was just another play. He threw it and I caught it. It just wasn't enough for the win."

On the South Florida defense...
"Their defense was good and our offense wasn't on. We went three-and-out (in overtime) and they put it in the end zone. We just didn't put enough points on the board."

Brandon Cox, QB
"We beat ourselves. We had five turnovers. You can't win games like that. I just want to apologize to our defense. They did their part. Offensively we didn't. When we werern't turning the ball over, we were putting together some pretty good drives. I think we got better in some parts of our offense. Turning the ball over like that, you can't win games.

On the difference between South Florida's defense in the first half and second half...
"They were changing it up on us. In the first half, they were slanting their defensive line and we were gashing them on some running plays. In the second half, they quit slashing and we had to change up our offense a little bit. That is something we able to correct on our part. I feel like we ran the ball really well. The passing game was hit and miss. There were a couple of really bad throws and some drops. If we hadn't turned the ball over as many times as we did, it would have looked a lot better."

South Florida Head Coach Jim Leavitt
"I am proud of the battling we did; it was a big win for us. A guy named Jeff Wagnor, who has cancer and lives Florida, Tommy Tuberville wrote him a letter saying that he knew that South Florida wanted to win the game, but he knew Jeff was playing for something a lot bigger than a football game; Jeff was playing for his life. I appreciate Tommy Tuberville so much for that letter and I read that letter to our team last night. I want to let everyone know much I appreciate that gesture. Auburn is an outstanding football team and they are going to win a bunch of games. For us to come in here and win is big. I am really proud of our players."

Comparison to beating West Virginia last season...
"This was very similar. West Virginia was a big win for us too, because it was in the Big East. I grew up in the south, so this win was bigger because I had never played or coached against Auburn. This is special for me because of where I was raised."

On kicker Delbert Alvarado...
"I really didn't want him punting because I didn't want him to overdo it. I don't want to use that as an excuse and neither would he. There is no excuse for the one that got blocked and the next one got tipped, I think, so we have a lot to work on in that area. I really didn't want to go for that field goal at the end when it was fourth-and-inches, but I felt like we needed to drive, but I was concerned."

On decision to kick when it was fourth-and-two...
"I didn't hesitate on that one either. After he kicked it I hesitated a little. That was a hard decision."

On the win building confidence...
"Of course it is going to give you confidence, there is no doubt about that. We have probably the toughest schedule that we have ever had and we are going to have to play just as good as we did tonight to continue to win."

On perseverance...
"Perseverance is a powerful word. It is something that you talk about all the time. We talk about finishing and fighting until the end. I told the team last night that if we are going to have a chance we are going to have to go into overtime. I thought it would come down until the end if we played the kind of game we needed to play."

On changing kickers...
"People know my personality and history and I don't change kickers. I try to go with a guy and stay with him. I know he (Delbert Alvarado) is a good kicker. He had to punt and kick for us; I never really wanted to do that. That is a lot of ask of one person."

SOUTH FLORIDA PLAYERS

Matt Grothe, QB
On the winning TD...

"We had tried a couple of times to run that play in the game. They are mostly a cover-two or man team but when we ran those plays earlier they were in two and only gave us the underneath. Jessie (Hester) made a good move on his man and made the play."

On the last play...
"It was so emotional when he caught it. I wasn't sure what happened. It took me a minute to realize we had just won the game. This is my all-time favorite win because it happened on my birthday."

On the fourth-quarter comeback...
"All week long the coaches had been telling us to finish and play four quarters. It was frustrating to get the turnovers late in the game and not be able to score from inside the 20, but sometimes those things happen. It was like we talked about at halftime and all week, play four quarters, play four quarters, play four quarters."

Jessie Hester, WR On the winning catch..
"That was a play we just put in this week. We had worked so hard to come back and I had so many people counting on me that I knew I had to catch it. All I had to do was what the coaches teach us every day."

On the crowd after the winning touchdown...
"I think our fans were kind of speechless when it first happened, but then they were the only thing you could hear in the stadium."

On the fourth quarter comeback...
"We had the field position advantage after the turnovers and even though we weren't able to score, we just kept fighting and never doubted ourselves. We knew we could get the job done. Everybody played hard tonight, everybody."

Mike Ford, RB
On the USF crowd...

"It just love, all love. For everyone just to be there is great, but Auburn is pretty loud too."

On USF's struggles to run the ball in the second half..
"They came out a little stronger, but it freed up the passing game. They were kind of keying on us. We had to do the same and step up on the run."

On how USF persevered...
"The one thing about USF football is we are all one family."

George Selvie, DE
On the locker room atmosphere...

"Everyone is hyped up. We just want to go home so we can get to the party."

On the final series that sent the game into overtime...
"That was a really big series. We wanted to go to overtime, because that's what defense does."

On staying positive after all the missed field goals...
"It hurt, but it wasn't like we were losing."

On his experience of playing in Jordan-Hare...
"It's a big difference, coming from Sarasota. The noise and the intensity was really different. I just had to step up."

On facing King Dunlap...
"Me and Dunlap really went after it. He is really good."

On the future of the team...
"We are on top right now and the sky is the limit."

On being one of the sack-leaders in the NCAA...
"It's crazy. Last year I only had five sacks the whole season. To know be a leader is great.