MSU vs. Auburn Postgame Quotes

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Sept. 10, 2011

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Auburn Locker Room

Head Coach Gene Chizik

On the game-saving defensive stop at the goal line by Ryan Smith
"I couldn't be more proud of a guy like Ryan. I'm not going to go into any details, but he has had some tough things happen in his life. He was able to stand up and make a play at the end and for me as the head coach, it makes me like a proud father. It is just awesome to see a young guy come through at the end of the game ultimately for the win. So, I am very proud of Ryan."

On Auburn playing more physical
"I think we got better. We didn't change anything. I think we got better today. I think Michael ran for 150 yards. We got our running game going, and we needed to do that. I think the offensive line took it personal that this (Mississippi State) is a very good defensive front. This (Mississippi State) is a very good defensive football team. I think they took it personal. I think that what we did in practice this week resonated with our whole team, and the part of the physicality of the game, I think our offensive line took it personal. I think our perimeter blockers took it personal. I think our running backs took it personal so we ran the football better today, still not good enough, still not where we need to be, but I think that again you are going to see the fruits of your labor if you work really hard at what you are trying to get accomplished. That's what we got."

On Auburn's offensive line
"Well, the bottom line was there are some times when you are nicked up and you're beat up, and you have to figure out who your next best guy is. If you have to play six or seven guys, what's that rotation going to look like? So, we were beat up and dinged up a little bit at the beginning of the week. So, we started working some different guys in there. We started working some different combinations with guards and tackles, and we were able to do that today. So, we will continue to look at that and try to get the best combination out there again. There are so many young guys out there that every week is a work in progress, and we are really trying to figure out what the final destination of some of these guys is. The bottom line is we would like to say we know exactly where they are, but we are so young right now. So, we are going to continue to work that until we find the right combinations everywhere."

On what was said in the time out on the last drive
"We just needed to regroup, and we needed to remind them of the plays that we were fairly certain they were going to run. So, we just needed to regroup. So, you call time out there at the end and tell them what is going to happen in the next two plays. If you stop them on third down, here is what is coming on fourth down. So, we pretty much had a good idea of what it was, and the guys stepped up to the plate and made the play."

Can you speak to the identity of this football team?
"I think that we are still trying to figure out really as a whole what the identity of our team is, and I think that as the season unfolds you figure it out game by game. I think these two certainly took it down to a place where we know that they will fight. They are a young team. They want to be good. Are we a great football team right now? No. Not even close. But the identity of the team is starting to form week by week because they will fight. They will not look at the scoreboard, and that's been one of the trademarks that we've really tried to instill in these guys that we are not looking for the scoreboard until it says 0:00 because everything else in-between does not matter. I think they are buying into that. I think they understand that and half of our young guys were around last year where they understand that. Again, we prefer to win football games a lot differently than we are, but I am going to tell you, there is something to be said for knowing that you can fight down to the end when it doesn't look good and still be able to win a game. Because at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how you do it. It just matters that you do it. Again with that being said, that we are at all satisfied by the way that we are playing on any side of the ball, but the identity of our team, I think week by week is coming together, and I think that we will know more as these next two or three weeks unfold."

On Tre Mason
"I just think that Tre Mason has a knack for the kickoff return game. I think our guys do a phenomenal job blocking it. I think Coach (Jay) Boulware and the staff do a good job of coaching it up and trying to take advantage of different kickoff units, but Tre has a knack, and he did it again today. The field position issues for us are so critical just with some of the struggles that we have on both sides of the ball so those are the hidden yards that people forget about, but we don't."

On how hard it is to tackle MSU QB Chris Relf
"He is 6-foot-4, 245 pounds or something of that nature. He is just a big man. He is able to fall forward for two or three yards. He is a big man. I'm going to tell you, I was extremely impressed with that young man because I don't know how many times (27) he carried the ball but at halftime I think it was 15. That is an extremely tough day taking that many hits and still being able to throw the ball like he does. He's an impressive young man."

On the goal line stand
"Again, just coming down to the last play and fighting, scratching and clawing for every inch you have a heavyweight fight, 15 rounds, last man standing, that's what you have to do to be able to win these games."

On what went into the decision to allow Jay Wisner back on the team
"Jay got into school, and we decided to let him back on the team."

Was he eligible last week?
"He was, but again, we had to work him back into playing shape and things of that nature."

On what you saw during the last play
"I thought he did not get in. That's what I thought, but from my angle, it's really hard to see. I wasn't aware initially that it was under review initially. I knew it was close, but I wasn't sure that it was under review. I thought it was a definitive stop, but it ended up being what it was."

On Emory Blake
"I tell you what, he's a special player. Emory is a special player. He's a tough guy. Don't lose sight of the fact that he covers kickoffs. He covers punts. He took a hit on the sideline today that may have knocked the other guy out, and he popped right back up. So, he is just a football player, and he's tough, and he loves the game, and he's a huge part of what we do."

On Auburn's struggles with third down defense
"Different things. I think that we had the quarterback on the run a couple of times. I think that he made some good throws. I think coverage-wise right now we are a little bit out of place meaning not a busted coverage, but a step or two behind or whatnot. We weren't good on third downs all day in anything no matter what they did. So, our third down defense right now is very raw and not very good, but we are going to work on that. Again, I fully expect our defense to play better next week."

Running Back Michael Dyer

On first touchdown run...
"The line came through and made a terrific block. We got a baseline hit on one of their guys and it just opened up and I took it."

On Gus Malzahn offense...
"He creates opportunities for everyone in this offense, not just one player. We can do anything on offense and he allows us to do it. We just try to make the most out of every situation."

On two-running back attack with Onterio McCalebb and himself...
"Onterio(McCalebb) and I have been family long before I got here. When we hit the field, that's all we think about - doing what we have to do every time. Our offensive line are the ones that deserve the credit. They are the ones that came through today."

Linebacker Jake Holland

On containing Mississippi State quarterback Chris Relf...
"We had a good game plan from the start. I felt we played the option well. Chris Relf is a mobile quarterback but I felt we contained him pretty well."

On the last defensive stop...
"Our mentality going into it was they were not going to score. This week our whole deal was playing for each other. I feel we did that very well and got the last stop."

Kicker Cody Parkey

On his first collegiate field goal...
"It was good. It felt just like practice. I work on it every day so it just felt like any other kick. It was nice to get those points right before halftime to go into the locker room with that added momentum."

On forcing touchbacks...
"It gets to the point where I'm asked to kick it out of the end zone or put it inside the 20. I was kicking them pretty well today and I felt like I could send it to the back of the end zone with every kick. I do whatever the coaches ask."

On Auburn special teams...
"We have so many good guys, that we are clicking as a whole right now. When we have guys like Tre Mason returning kicks, it makes us all look good. Whether it's the other team getting touchbacks or our team sticking them inside the 20, we are all just clicking really well right now."

Linebacker Darren Bates

On the physicality of the SEC opener...
"We knew they were going to come out and play hard. We wanted to do the same thing. We just played like we used to play. We came out and played physical."

On the final play...
"We've been watching film on who would keep it in the red zone. Everybody played their part and Ryan Smith made an outstanding play. We swarmed to the ball like we were told to do."

On picking up a key win at home to start SEC play...
"We were defending our home field on our home turf. It could be anybody. It could be the number one team in the country or the last team in the country. We're going to come out and play hard. Mississippi State played a really good game."

Defensive Back Demetruce McNeal

On picking up the first win of the SEC season...
"Mississippi State is a great team. They came in ranked 16th. We played with a big chip on our shoulder. We came out to get some things off our chests and show that we can still do it. Even after everybody we lost from last year, we've got heart. We're going to bring everything we've got to the table - every week. We're just going to ball out and show everybody that we're Auburn and we can still do it."

On defending Mississippi State QB Chris Relf...
"Chris Relf is a good player. We saw that last year. When he scrambled in the pocket, you're going to have to step up and try and make a tackle or stay in coverage. It's kind of a 50/50 situation when he has the ball in his hands. You have to work as a team to contain him."

On interception return for a touchdown...
"That was the first time I've ever returned an interception for a touchdown off of somebody's helmet. Everybody was in the right spot. T'Sharvan Bell recognized the pass. He was looking for the ball. He couldn't find it, but the ball found his helmet. Somehow, it just popped up in our favor, into my hands. Once I get the ball in my hands, it's just like high school - I'm thinking end zone. Hopefully, I can do it again sometime.

Defensive Back Ryan Smith

On game winning tackle...
"We knew they were going to try and run it. I was just trying to make a play for the team and come up big for the Auburn family. That was a big win for us, winning the first SEC game."

On Mississippi State's offense...
"You just have to stick to your assignments and stay in your zone to make the plays you have to make."

Auburn Quarterback Barrett Trotter

Thoughts on the Auburn offensive performance...
"You know, we really wanted to come out and establish the running game we struggled last week so I feel like we really improved running the ball in the first half. To put 31 points on them in the first half seemed like the longest half in my life to be honest. But I think we did a lot of things better this week than we did last week."

On the 10 play 92-yard drive...
"That was when I felt like the momentum really, really changed for us you I think everybody on our sideline knew at that point that we weren't going to be beat."

On the physical week of practice...
"We obviously knew they were going to be bigger and stronger than Utah State so you know we had to prepare a lot harder for them I feel like and I think we did. We made sure that they weren't going to beat us up front off the ball across the line. I feel like the offensive line did a great job protecting me and the running ball."

Wide Receiver Emory Blake

On his 46 yard catch and run...
"It was a well-called play against the defense but we went out there and executed it very well and ended up with points."

On his career high 108 yard receiving performance...
"I think we are all clicking. We were all making plays out there. It was a great overall win for the team and we just need to keep on trucking."

On whether he is satisfied with the 2-0 start...
"Not really. We are off to a good start but we are definitely not satisfied with the way we are playing."

On what the big change was from last week to this week...
"We were a lot more physical in practice this week. Coach Chiz [Chizik] told us that we were going to make big improvements this week because of the way we practiced and we did and you saw that on the field today."

Running Back Tre Mason

On his kick return performance today...
"The whole special teams unit came together. I can't do it without them. I say it all the time, I can't do this by myself. I just try to do my best and get creative and hit the hole and try to find it and take it for a touchdown."

On performing well in the first two games of his college career...
"They recruited us to play. I just wanted to try and come in and contribute as much as possible, and that was my main thing. I just wanted to come in here and contribute wherever they put me as much as possible."


Mississippi State Locker Room

Head Coach Dan Mullen

Opening Statement...
"That's a tough loss for us right there. That's 100% completely on me. I need to get our team better prepared. I don't think we played as well as we could. They outplayed us in certain phases especially special teams, starting field position. Those things fall on my shoulders. I didn't have our team ready to go enough for that final inch. We came up an inch short. I think our players played hard. They believed. We had a couple different deficits we fought back from a couple different times. They never quit. They never will in our program. That's what our program is based on. We have to find a way to take that final inch. That's about where we are right now as a program. As a coaching staff and as a football team we have got to find a way to get that final inch. That's what is separating us from being a great team."

On close first-down call that kept Auburn on the field...
"Our players came off and said it was short, but I don't know how they look at that. Obviously we're going to think they didn't make it and their going to think they did make it. I don't think that is an issue. There is the game of inches I guess. There's a great example right there. They found a way to get that one eighth of a final inch and they stopped us one eighth of a final inch. They got it on that one call. We came up just short. I looked at the replay and it looked like they made the right call. At the end of the game the replay it looks like they made the right call."

On the loss...
"It's devastating because we didn't play as well as we could have. I give them credit they played really well today. They played really well, but I expect that out of them. I know you all in the media probably don't because you watch them and say oh what about this week or what about next week. We certainly knew we were going to have our hands full coming in here. Come out and dig yourself a hole with silly penalties, an interception for a touchdown a 14-0 hole. Just awful. Defensively, I mean to give up 235 rushes on 36 carries is embarrassing. That's really poor by our defensive coaching staff. We'll get that fixed. It's a tough loss and it's going to test your character. Test the character of our coaching staff, our strength staff, our administration, our trainers and our student body. It's going to test everybody's character. This team, our character, our football family, our football program. Test our character. We have to respond five days later against the best team in the country. We have to see how we respond."

On defense coming out of halftime...
"We were poor tackling. We were in poor position. That is a coaching problem. We were in poor positions. We had poor tackling. We missed a couple tackles in that first half. That is not acceptable, that is not acceptable. We had 531 yards, still only scored 34 points should have had 41. Then you guys could have really gotten after me as a coach if we had scored to see what I would have done."

On Chris Relf's performance...
"I thought he played well with a lot of confidence. He made the call on the last play. He had three options and he chose the run. I like that. I liked the confidence in Chris. You could go pass-pass, pass-run or just run. Chris said he felt great about the run call, and the kid made a heck of an open field tackle. That was the difference tonight. I've said all along Auburn finds ways to win football games and they did that tonight."

On mistakes throughout the game...
"We had three missed passes right off our finger tips, that were all possible big-play touchdowns. The inch in the game, not just on the final play, we came up an inch short on the play before. We came up an inch short two plays before. We came up an inch short on defense. If our punt return team would have gotten that one inch that's all it is. It's not just one play. It's us as a program fighting and clawing to get that one inch. That one inch to take the last step to get to where we need."

On potentially going for two on a hypothetical final touchdown...
"Yes. Then you could've come in here and yelled and screamed at me for going for two."

On the final review...
"I imagine they got it right. They were right there in position and on those types of plays they are usually unreviewable anyway. Someone should put a microchip in the ball to make sure. I'm sure one day we will have that technology."

On quick turnaround to play LSU on Thursday...
"To be honest with you, I don't even think about that. In the SEC you just have to go play. Its week three of the season, most teams are still playing gimme directional schools. We played the defending national champions and now we are going to play - in my mind - the number one team in the nation. That's life in the Southeastern Conference. Psychologically, we are just going to buckle up and go play hard."

On injuries on the offensive line...
"We had two redshirt freshmen in there for the last two drives of the game. They stepped up. I was pretty pleased. We didn't have a snap issue. We aren't very deep, so losing starters really hurts. That's the one part we needed to stay healthy."

On being behind early...
"I just told our team, `we are going to see what we're made of.' There were 11 minutes left in the first quarter and I just told everyone - relax. We spotted them 14 points and I wish we had those 14 points right now. It came back to hurt us, but it showed maturity. There was no panic. We came back, tied it up, and eventually took the lead."

On concerns with MSU defense...
"I'm concerned giving up 235 yards rushing - a lot of them on missed tackles. We have to make sure that we have guys in the right position to make plays on the field."

On fixing missed tackles...
"To me, it's a practice issue. It's the demeanor and tempo of how you practice at all times, which is sometimes difficult in young players, especially in linebackers and defensive backs. You have to go hard in practice all the time to make those plays. Sometimes in practice, you go through the motions, but their line is going to be a little bit better than our scout offensive line. Their backs are going to be a little better than our scout backs. Obviously, our scout team didn't give us good enough looks if we are that far away from making tackles. It's not about ability. It's a matter of maturity."

On message going into half...
"It was good news and bad news. We were losing the game, down seven. We gave the defending national champions a big jump start on us, but the good news is that we had 30 minutes left to play and we knew we could execute a lot better on offense and special teams and tackle on defense. We needed to make the big plays and force them to punt from their own end zone, score a touchdown, and we just didn't finish off. The inches are everywhere."

On if the best team won...
"The team that played the best today won."

Defensive Back Charles Mitchell

On defense during the fourth quarter...
"We made tackles but we played more downs than we would have liked to. We missed tackles late in the game that prevented us from having a better chance to win the game."

On being down 14 early in the game...
"We knew that we had to play four quarters and that we were in for a fight, we were not worried about being down 14."

On Auburn's run game...
"They gained yards because we missed tackles, if we had made those tackles some of those runs would not have been as big of gains and we would have gotten off of the field quicker."

Offensive Line Addison Lawrence

On the final play of the game...
"We knew Chris Relf wanted to run and he has been a work-horse for us these past two years, so he deserved the chance."

On playing in a close game...
"It definitely hurts to be one short-yardage play away from a win."

On struggling early in the game...
"It definitely hurts. We were moving the ball, but we were shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties. Those are the small things you focus on all week."