Quotes - Auburn vs. Vanderbilt
Nov. 5, 2016

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NO. 11 AUBURN VS. VANDERBILT
November 5, 2016
Jordan-Hare Stadium | Auburn, Ala.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn

Opening Statement...
"First of all, I'm extremely proud of our team and very proud of the coaches. We faced probably about as much adversity as we faced in a win in a long time. We had some injuries and some guys weren't able to play. We had one of our top defensive guys kicked out of the game early. We had some guys that really stepped up and did a super job. In every year that we've won a lot of games there has been a game like this where our guys found a way to win. You've got to give Vanderbilt a lot of credit. They had a week off and were obviously fresh and very good, and took advantage of some situations. They're a good team. They're a really good team. I'm glad to have a victory. I'm glad to get number seven. I'm really proud of our team."

On Sean White not playing in the first half...
"He was banged up. He was hurt and couldn't practice, didn't take one practice snap, so we just built our game plan around John (Franklin) and the first nine and everything that goes with that. Sean threw some in warmups and moved around. It was one of those deals where he thought he could go. At halftime, we just made the move. He was ready to go and obviously gave our offense a spark. It looked like our offense. I'm real proud of him. He showed a lot of toughness."

On if Sean White missing was disciplinary or an injury...
"No disciplinary issue at all, it was an injury."

On specifics of Sean White's injury...
"I'm not getting into all that. It's an injury. He's our starting quarterback and he's playing extremely well. He's tough. He took a beating at Ole Miss."

On the extent of Kamryn Pettway's injury...
"He pulled something obviously. He was going out and poor kid pulled something. We're a pretty beat up team."

On if he has ever had a quarterback play after not practicing all week...
"Probably so. I've been coaching for 26 years, so I'm sure it's happened once."

On putting Sean White in to start the second half...
"It was kind of one of those deals at halftime, and I'm proud of John. I will say that was his first start against a really good team, and really you take away the fumble, and he managed the game pretty well. I'm proud of him and that will help him moving forward, to have some real game reps, to see what it feels like, the pressure, the way he responded. I thought he did a good job in the zone read, but it's kind of one of those deals at halftime where we just felt we needed a spark. Sean said he could go. Rhett (Lashlee) talked to him and he went out there. He's a tough guy and a great competitor."

On third down struggles defensively...
"That was a tough deal, there's no doubt. We've got to get off the field on third downs, especially at third down and nine-plus. That was really a big part. You've got to give them credit. There was a couple of those throws that really good and all that. We were playing without some people, and you all know that, but we've got to get better on third down."

On Josh Holsey coming up big in back-to-back games...
"Josh is one of our leaders and he finds a way to win. It was just one of those days. There wasn't a whole lot that went our way. Time and time again we were facing adversity. They jumped over and blocked a field goal. We had a lot of penalties, which is very uncharacteristic of our team. We've been one of the more disciplined teams in college football. Every time we turned around there was something against us. That's what makes this win so good, that our kids overcame."

On the targeting call...
"It's one play. It's getting hard to be able to coach what a good lick is. We've just got to keep coaching our guys and hopefully we'll get better at it. It's tough."

On where Kamryn Pettway ranks in his 1,000 yard rushers...
"I'd like to probably answer that at the end of the season when everything is kind of out. He's done a phenomenal job. He's come on to the scene. A guy that played H-back last year in this league, that's probably unheard of. He's a force, he's a load."

On if Kerryon Johnson is fully healthy...
"He's still not 100 percent. He's probably somewhere around 80 percent, but KJ is a tough guy. He's a savvy guy, too, between the tackles. The run he made for a touchdown was phenomenal. We've got to get him healthy."

On what inspired him to run Starburst for the first time in college...
"We were working on it all year, and it's a shame that we didn't execute it. It's been up for four weeks, but we didn't have the right opportunity this week. We didn't get it done and that is disappointing."

On how he feels about the team now and how the team controls its own destiny after watching Mississippi State beat Texas A&M...
"Really the way we are going to look at it is that we are going to Georgia next week. We are going to take it one game at a time and we will see what happens at the end. That is our approach. We aren't looking ahead. That has been our formula this year and we will continue to do the same thing."

On what makes him more excited on playing Georgia than in the past...
"We haven't won much lately. We have to find a way to solve that. I really like our team. I like the way they responded at Ole Miss. The thing about this team is they are going to fight. They are going to get after it. They are going to scratch and claw. We just have to find a way."

On if he thinks the team will be healthier overall going into next week...
"I don't know. I can't answer that question. We're beat up."

On if it changes things knowing Sean White was banged up...
"I didn't say he has a bad shoulder, but he's beat up. You have to take all of that into effect. You have to think about everything that a quarterback is. How healthy he is, how young your receivers are. You have to take it all into effect."

On Daniel Carlson's kicking...
"He is the best kicker in college football and it is not even close. I don't know about that last play because that wasn't his fault. You don't see that every day. He's a great kicker."

On how he said Auburn was going to change this year...
"When you do something for 26 years, that's all you know. But after the Arkansas State game, I called Rhett and said I can't do it anymore, and be the head coach here. I'm going to slowly turn it over and after that game I called them and said "It's going to be yours guys." I believe in Rhett and Herb. They have done a phenomenal job."

On why the team responds so great to offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee...
"Because he does a great job and players love him. They respect him."

On if that was one of the most difficult decisions you could make...
"I wouldn't say it is difficult. Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you just get a gut feeling and I just can't do it this way anymore. You know that. It wasn't hard, but yes it took a couple of weeks of getting used to. When you do something for 26 years and then you're not doing it, it feels weird. It's been really refreshing. It's been really good for me personally to be there for our players more and for our coaches more. We have a great offensive staff. They are awesome. It was just the right thing to do."

On T.J. Neal playing well on Saturday...
"I am proud of him because he is a grad transfer. He had not been able to play a whole lot. He has a good attitude and he got his opportunity. We are just about out of linebackers. He did a super job. Montavious Atkinson did a super job. They played a lot of snaps."

On Darius Slayton...
"Darius Slayton is starting to come into his own. He's starting to be a real SEC receiver. He is a redshirt freshman that is playing all around good football."

On how the team has dealt with adversity...
"Our team has a lot of heart, a lot of a gut, and a lot of fight. There was more adversity today than any game I can think of. There might be some that equal in the past. There was not a whole lot going right for us, and we won."

Auburn Player Quotes

Sophomore defensive back Carlton Davis

On Joshua Holsey's interception...
"You know that dude, he's an old guy, man, he knows a lot about football. Very smart guy. High football IQ. That's something I would expect for him, that play, to make and he's really just showing the world what he can do now."

On Holsey's past two games...
"Like I said before he's a playmaker and I've seen it in practice. It's just a matter of time before the whole world sees it."

On staying on the field after getting 3rd downs... "That's kind of annoying. That just goes back to us just fighting through adversity and continuing to fight as a team just to get the job done."

On improving in the second half...
"Yeah we did a little bit better. We've got some things to clean up as always, still room for improvement. After today we'll celebrate and go back to work tomorrow."

Sophomore running back Kerryon Johnson

On Kamryn Pettway breaking 1,000 yards...
"I think it was Tuesday I told him, I said, hey, we just don't want to be a group that doesn't get it done and to know we got it out of the way with three games left is just a huge relief. You know, obviously you don't want to play for that, but when you get a stat like that out of the way you can really just focus in on just making yourself better and doing what you're supposed to do."

On how he feels physically...
"I felt about the same. I felt really just about the same. It was no better, no worse. Just that first hit just kind of shook me up a little bit and just had to walk it off."

"Like I said last week, you know, at this point in the college season nobody out there is 100 percent and everybody is fighting through something. I've just to do my part."

Junior defensive back Tray Matthews

On the defense getting through the rest of the season...
"We just want to continue to get better each and every week. Coach (Kevin) Steele emphasizes each week in practice that we need to continue getting better, improve, and that we always have things to work on."

On if there were any adjustments at halftime...
"We had to come in and adjust. Coach (Gus) Malzahn said 'respond to adversity' so we got on the chalkboard, drew everything up, and made the right adjustments."

On returning back to Athens...
"It's a big game, but I'm just taking it game-by-game. I'm not even thinking about it like that. I just know that it's another game away from what we want to accomplish and that's to go all the way, so it's just another game that we have to play hard, fast and physical."

Sophomore linebacker Darrell Williams

On the linebacker situation during the game...
"I knew after that targeting call on Deshaun (Davis) I was going to get more reps, so I knew I had to just step up. We prepare for times like that."

On how he felt on the other guys' performance who came in...
"I have a lot of respect for TJ (Neal) for coming in and playing like that. He hasn't really gotten reps like that and he stepped up and did an amazing job. Montavious (Atkinson) did an amazing job too.

Junior kicker Daniel Carlson

On setting the new Auburn field goal record... "It's big, obviously, Auburn is known for having a lot of great kickers, recently especially. So hopefully I can continue to keep making kicks. It means I've been busy obviously, so hopefully I can keep making those when the team needs me"

What has been your mindset these last few games, having been called on for several big field goals...
"It's the same as always, when the team needs me, I've got to execute and do my job. When coach sends me out there, he expects three points. Luckily I've been able to do that most of the time. I take my job seriously, and those points can add up, especially in close games like this."

Junior defensive lineman Carl Lawson

On the defense's performance...
"We played hard, and we fought. There are some things we need to clean up. We allowed too many rushing yards."

On his sack late in the game...
"I just got off the edge. I worked a move and got around the corner. I was trying to make a big-time play."

On the defense's mindset...
"We want to get better each week. That's it. That's the main feel."

On overcoming adversity...
"There was a lot of adversity. A lot of people were out. People got kicked out today. There are little bruises that we all have, but that's adversity. Good teams have to handle adversity."

Senior defensive back Joshua Holsey
On whether he thought about giving up football after multiple injuries... "Oh man, no. That's the main reason I came back. I kind of did give up a little bit. I backed away from it for a minute, but I don't know what else I would do. My friends are all at practice and I wanted to hang around my teammates one last time. To experience this – we're having a great year right now – I'm just happy to keep playing."

On his game-sealing interception...
"I appreciate living moments like those. When you have two knee injuries, you can't really do anything. You never know what's next, so I take every game and practice to heart. I went down on a non-contact injury. When I go to practice now, I go hard every play. When I come out to the game, I play my hardest because you never know when that last play will be. If I do get injured again, I want to make sure I go out playing as hard as I possibly could."

On how the team overcomes injuries...
"This whole next week is going to be big for us - mentally and physically. We have to get a lot of guys healthy. We have a lot of guys that are beat up. We have a lot of guys with nicks and bruises, so I'm sure this week will be a lot more mental than physical. Coach Malzahn does a great job of helping us get well. He watches our reps. He watches what we do. The main thing they tell us is if we're watching our reps, we have to be responsible. That's just as important as actual practice. We have to be able to physically see what's going on in the film room. We have to spend a lot more time preparing."

Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Davis

On the first drive in the second half...
"It was very big. I feel like we moved the ball well with John Franklin III also. There were just some miscues here and there. We needed to put points on the board, so I thought it was very big for us."

On his confidence in Sean White...
"I have all the confidence in the world in Sean. I feel like he can make any throw and every play. I have just as much confidence in John Franklin III also, so we'll be fine with either one. Sean is capable of what John Franklin III is capable of. They just both bring different styles to the table."

On the offense's performance in the second half...
"I feel like we executed. We did the little things right that we didn't in the first half. I think that was the difference. Everybody came together and woke up. We were kind of sleepwalking around. Once we got punched in the mouth, we responded in the second half."

Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason Quotes

Opening statement...
"First of all, I need to give credit where credit is due. We played a really good Auburn football team. They are tough and physical. I felt our kids were prepared. They really were. I felt our kids came out of the bye fully knowing what we needed to do offensively. We had a great game plan against them, obviously, to get the ball out of the quarterback's hands and make sure that we could still run the football and have some balance to what we were doing offensively. I have to give credit to Cameron (Norcross) and those guys up front because we challenged those guys to keep them off our quarterback, and I thought they did a good job. For the majority of this game we neutralized that pass rush as much as we could. Twelve different receivers caught balls and that was impressive. I thought Kyle (Shurmur) was poised. For the majority of the game, he did a really good job of spreading it around. I thought our backs ran hard and the wildcat was great and the use of our offensive personnel. I thought it was a great game plan.

Defensively, I thought we did what we wanted to do in the first half. I didn't know going into the game that John Franklin was going to be the starter, but I thought our guys handled it and adapted because when he is in the game it is more wildcat than anything else. You have to play 11 guys. I thought it took a couple series to get our guys adjusted, but once they adjusted we did a good job handling him.

The X-factor was really Sean White. His ability to command the tempo and really take care of the football and make critical throws in critical situations is really what he did. It was smart of them to put him back out there. I thought we had a chance to really get after these guys. The one thing I can say about our football team right now is these guys believe in each other. We respect everybody, but fear no one. These guys were never out of the fight. Even after the long run versus cover zero, we misfit that thing and it gets out. It is unfortunate for (Kamryn) Pettway and what happened to him because you never want to see anyone get hurt, but we run it down and give ourselves a chance. We play them in three downs and then we go for a block. Zach Cunningham does what we ask great players to do which is make a play. He said, 'Coach, do you want me to go over the top?' And I said, 'Yeah, if you can find a crease, go get it.' That's exactly what he did, and he blocks it. We give ourselves a chance. This ball game comes down to us fighting and us not being able to get it done in the end. To our guys the message was continue to stay in the fight. We are a good football team, and we don't need people to tell us that. The thing that we need to do is continue to fight."

On the different options (misdirections, end arounds or reverse, etc.) that help the running game...
"When you face a front like this, it helps a ton. I think you guys are starting to see week-by-week what Andy (Ludwig) can do. As guys have earned the right to get out there, I think Andy's done as good as job as anybody in this conference of utilizing guys that are available to us. This is all while we are still trying to get a young quarterback to settle in and figure out exactly what he can do with the players around him. Right now we are getting better. I thought we threw the ball better, and you saw guys catch the ball and touch the ball in the run game. We need to continue to garner confidence because we have a three-game stretch of ball that we can get after if we go one at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time."

On his reaction to the fumble that was called back...
"We really have to talk about this. As I looked at it, here's what I saw, when it's all said and done I leave it to the referees. I plan on having a conversation with Mr. Shaw and Mr. Sankey this week about that particular play because for me I want to know exactly what conclusive and inconclusive evidence means. I don't know. Zach Cunningham again is a player that is making a play. He is aware. He knows how that running back carries the football in that particular situation. For us to get it out and for us to be called a fumble, right now I have to say that we have to continue to keep going with the referee calls and play the game because we don't get those back."

Vanderbilt Player Quotes

Sophomore quarterback Kyle Shurmur
On the offense being efficient and what they did differently this week... "We had a great opponent, and we were not going to cower in fear. We were going to go right after them."

On how it helps a quarterback when guys can get yards after catch and turn short passes into big gains...
"It is great throwing the ball five yards and having them make a 15- or 20-yard gain out of it. It really helps build confidence for the whole offense."

On how he played...
"At times, it felt like we were moving the ball and just going after them. That was the biggest thing. We weren't going to cower in fear against big, bad Auburn. We were just going to go after them, because we had nothing to lose. No one gave us a chance to win, but at the end of the day I didn't play well enough to win the game. We had a chance to win at the end, and I threw a pick. Wins and losses are the only thing I see, and at the end I didn't do enough for our team to win. That is what is bugging me right now."

On how the offensive line played today...
"(Auburn's number) 55 (Carl Lawson) and 1 (Montravius Adams) are good. They have a great front seven and our offensive line stood up to them. They didn't take anything from them."

On what the end-arounds add to the offense...
"Basically first- and second-level defenders can't really tee off on you. They have to maintain their gap integrity. They are going to be hesitant to come downhill really hard and fast to tackle Ralph (Webb) on a simple run play."

Junior defensive back Ryan White

On Auburn's offense after changing quarterbacks...
"Well, we knew number 5 (John Franklin III) was a runner, and when number 13 (Sean White) comes into the game he's a thrower, so it made a big difference."

On the field goal block...
"No, we hadn't seen that. That was just Zach making a play. He's a jumper on that play. But usually they just jump behind the ball. That was a just a football play."

On holding down a potent Auburn offense...
"Week in and week out, everybody just does their job. If everyone just does their job then it fits the gaps right, then we're as good as anybody."

On Vanderbilt's offensive improvement...
"Practice. In practice, all week we've been doing really well. We seem to make a lot of progress in practice, that's where it starts."

Junior wide receiver C.J. Duncan

On changing things up on offense...
"I don't think there was much change. We just had a lot of rhythm today. This is the potential we always believed we had. Kyle had a great game. Auburn, they have a great defense, they have a great team. We just didn't make enough plays to win the ballgame."

On making lots of substitutions and how that affected the offensive rhythm...
"It's always good to switch it up. Give them a different look so they don't have their ears pinned back, things of that nature. It's just a little mix-up. You know, we're just going to keep working to get better. That's what every week is about. Finding new ways, and finding a way to get above and be great."

On starting quarterback Kyle Shurmur...
"The talent is there. We believe in number 14. He's a big-time ballplayer. We talk about a rhythm, being on the same page, with everybody. Long game, passing game. That helps out Kyle out a lot as far as the press box is concerned too. We're able to do some good things as a group as a unit, and that helped Kyle out a lot. But we're not surprised by his performance at all, he can really sling it. We're behind that kid 100 percent."

On Shurmur's game-ending interception...
"He'll be good, he'll be fine. He's a strong-minded kid. I think our offense played a heck of a game. That alone will give a quarterback confidence regardless of the outcome. That defense line that they have across the way, that's one of the best in the country. I think offensive line held up really well. That's going to give them a lot of confidence coming up for the rest of the season."

On the blocked field goal...
"Honestly at this point, after coming in with Zach (Cunningham) in 2013 and seeing him progress, I'm not surprised anymore. That kid is unbelievable. He does it every day at practice, he does it every game. He shows up when we need it. That's exactly what he did. He's a heck of an athlete. We're just glad to have him on our side."

Junior linebacker Zach Cunningham

On his field goal block...
"That play was a middle block, so basically I am supposed to jump up and try to block the kick from behind the line. What I decided to do was... I noticed the center had a cadence. I went to the sideline and asked Coach if I was able to jump over the center because I noticed he had a cadence. They said do it, so that's what I decided to do."

On what coach gave him permission to jump over the line...
"I was talking to my linebacker coach (Chris Marve). He said 'jump over him, but you aren't able to touch him or anyone else.'"

On whether he has done that before...
"No, I have not."


 

 

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