Nov. 8, 2008
Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
"It has been a long time since we have won a game. Our guys are excited obviously. Tennessee-Martin came to play. They gave us some problems. Their quarterback (Cade Thompson) really did a nice job, but we didn't have a lot of our guys healthy on defense. We held most of our defensive line out and I am really proud of six defensive linemen that really played the whole game rotating them in and out. That was a great effort by those kids. We got a little bit tired. We made some plays and got a little bit better. Offensivley, Kodi (Burns) was the difference with his legs running making plays. We threw the ball a little better. We didn"t do a lot on offense or defense. We were pretty much vanilla. We were just trying to make plays and of course a couple of turnovers hurt us and kickoff coverage hurt us. I think we gave up (203) yards on returns. Wes (Byrum) made a couple of field goals which was good. There were a lot of positives out of this. The one positive is we got the win. We were able to rest some guys and now we know what we are preparing for the next few weeks."
On Kodi Burns rushing the football
"We were trying to do a little bit more with him. He's not real fast, but he is quick and strong and he's gotten better running the ball. One thing we wanted to do was throw a few short passes tonight and get them out of the 8-9 man front. It's even harder to run Kodi with an 8-9 man front. You still have to be able to throw the ball. We could have thrown it a little bit more tonight. We probably should have. They didn't stop us that much. We stopped ourselves most of the time. That's the reason Kodi came to Auburn to be able to run the ball like that and make yards. That opens everything else up."
On playing Jerraud Powers that much and was Neiko Thorpe not ready?
"He practiced some this week. We kept asking Jerraud if he wanted to come out. He needed to play. Of course, we were a little soft on our coverage obviously on the weak side. They were throwing a lot of quick stuff and getting first downs and that was a little bit because of him. He still wasn"t 100 percent trusting his leg, but going through this week we will be a little bit different on defense. Him playing that much probably gave him a little confidence. He feels fine now. Neiko is probably about 80 percent and should be 100 percent next week."
On struggling early with the mistake on Robert Dunn's muffed punt return for a UT Martin TD?
"It was a terrible decision. We don"t catch the ball inside the 10 (yard line). He said the sun got in his eyes. You can't make mistakes like that. They scored 13 points on our defense. You can't give up plays like that on kickoff coverage or punts. We will play better. We weren't focused enough on some of those plays. In the first half, we only scored one touchdown. It was good to see Wes come in and kick those field goals, but we have to be a little bit more consistent. Again, we were a little bit conservative of what we were doing. We were trying to keep them out there on the field on defense and as the game went on it worked for us. They kind of wore down. It was a couple of turnovers that could have gotten us in trouble. Of course, we made a big interception on the first drive of the second half by Josh Bynes. Then, we turned around and turned it back over. It was at least good to stop them there. We struggle on defense. Some of the guys were out there for the first time in a few weeks. Of course, most of our starting defensive line wasn"t out there. We weren't getting enough pressure on their quarterback and that is going to have to change when we play a team like Georgia next week."
On Neil Caudle's play
"Neil did good. Obviously we weren"t trying to score there at the end. Sometimes people think when you put your second team quarterback out there, you just run the clock out. We needed to see Neil throw the ball and throw it down the field. I thought he did good. He kept his poise the one time he had to scramble they had a blitz on him on the weak side and he didn't read it, but he got himself out of a jam by throwing the ball down the field out of the pocket where it wasn"t grounding. He showed some poise. He threw the ball quick and got it off. We were trying to put him in right before the half but we gave up a 3rd and 10 and gave them an opportunity to go down and score. I would have loved to have gotten him a few more snaps."
On Tristan Davis and Jason Bosley
"Tristan was sore. He was probably about 80 percent going into this game. We wanted to be able to run some two back. Of course the kickoff return looked pretty good, and it didn't look like he was sore. He is not 100 percent and hopefully going into next week he will be. (Jason) Bosley just rolled his ankle that was sore from last week and he will be fine. We had a couple of guys that got hurt and will be questionable for next week. We will have to wait and see with x-rays."
Did you take a chance trying to win this game going into next week by holding guys out to get them healthy?
"We took a chance by putting some guys over there in jerseys and not pads. If you can't win a game like that with a lot of your backup guys play, then it doesn't make a lot of difference. The thing we have to do is get healthy for next week. We rolled the dice. Their quarterback is pretty good and their receivers are good. You have to be able to get a little bit more pressure. Again, I am very proud of the six guys that played defensive line. They were rolling and played a lot of plays and got a lot of valuable experience."
Where is Auburn now going into the Georgia game?
"There is a big question mark there. We are going to play two of the better teams that we've played all year long. We can"t play like we played today and we won"t. We will play a lot better. We will have a little bit more complex game plan. You can't count on Kodi running for (158) yards obviously. We are going to have a little bit more balanced attack. We will be better on defense and our kicking game will be better. Again, we know it is a tall order. The game is here at our place, and we will play much better."
Auburn Quarterback Kodi Burns
On the Auburn offensive performance
"We started off real slow, but we picked it up. The main thing is that guys were blocking real good, but we did not come up with points in the red zone like we should have. But, the score does not lie, as long as we came out with the win, that was the main goal."
On his performance in the game...
"I think I did OK, I think I improved a little bit running the ball. The guys were blocking really good and my performance was based off of blocking. The line blocked really well and the running backs and receivers all blocked really good."
On next week"s game against Georgia...
"It is going to be really tough, we have to prepare like we have been doing every week. Just like Coach Tuberville said, this is why you come to Auburn, to play these next two games (Georgia and Alabama). In order to get to Alabama, we have to go through Georgia. It is going to be a fun game, they are a great team and we are going to have to do our best to get a win."
Auburn Running Back Tristan Davis
On the Auburn offensive performance" "Our offense stepped it up today, especially in the running game, Kodi (Burns) had some big runs for us. We got more downhill blocking in our running and that helped us out a lot."
On game-opening kickoff return for touchdown...
"I did not think they were going to kick the ball to me. When the ball was in the air, I was like "man, they messed up now." We knew if Ben Tate was in the game, they were probably going to kick it to the other side, but for some reason they kicked it to me. I just knew I had to do something special, my grandfather was out there in the stands today for the first time in a long time."
On Senior Day recognition...
"It really meant a lot to me to have my family come down on the field and actually get that close to me while I am in uniform. It has not happened since high school, so it was very rewarding. With them in the stands, I knew when I got the ball I was not going to be denied a touchdown."
On his versatility (playing multiple positions)...
"I just like being on the field, helping out the team wherever I can. I am one of the bigger backs, so I can actually go in there and block somebody. I like being used that way, to help the team get on the field."
Auburn Running Back Brad Lester
On Senior Day recognition" "First of all, we had three losses in a row and it is great to get back out there and win, especially on Homecoming and Senior Day in front of fans and family."
On his touchdown...
"The play before, and on that play, the offensive line did a great job of getting the push off the ball. We did good, that was a great play."
On UT Martin's defense...
"They did a lot of slants and they had seven or eight people in the box and that is what we expected. We knew we were going to need to run a lot of quarterback draws to get an extra blocker."
On playing Georgia next week...
"It is going to be a lot of hard work. We know that the next two weeks are going to be good games because they are two great teams. We can be a great team, too, when we want to be. We just have to be mentally focused and prepared."
Auburn Offensive Lineman Tyronne Green
On Senior Day...
"It means a lot. It's a special chance to strap on the pads and play as a senior. We have to take it to the end and look to playing Georgia next week at home. Tonight was fun for my parents and my family to come out and watch and come out onto the field before the game. We all had a good time."
On offensive success tonight...
"We wanted to come out and get after it. We tried to rush the ball and put up some points. We have to get some momentum going into these next two games. Our main focus was to come out and use this game to get better."
Auburn Defensive Back Jerraud Powers
On returning to action...
"It felt good. I'm still not up to 100 percent. I got a little fatigued late in the game but I fought through it. It seemed like they ran a million hitches to me. It just felt real good to get back out there."
On going into Georgia week...
"It"s going to be a challenge. They"re a great football team. They won today. They've got explosive guys on offense and a great quarterback. Their receivers are strong. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Auburn Linebacker Josh Bynes
On third quarter interception...
"We knew where the route was going. My teammates were yelling at me, "Josh, get out here! Josh!" I knew where the play was going from the get-go. At first I was a little hesitant. I waited for the ball to get snapped, made the move and picked the ball off."
On getting a win going into the Georgia week...
"It was a good win. It could"ve been a lot better offensively and defensively. We need the momentum going into these last two games. These are the biggest games you'll ever play at Auburn and I'm looking forward to it. I know a lot of the guys are looking forward to it. We are going to go out tomorrow and get to work."
Auburn Defensive End Antoine Carter
On how this victory will play into Georgia preparations" "Like we said in our prayer meeting last night, "one act of righteousness will change a lot." We got our momentum back. We're good to go."
On fourth down stand in the fourth quarter...
"You just get out there and do your technique. The coach is going to give us a job to do. We have got to get out there and go to work."
On closing the season with Georgia and Alabama...
"These next two games are big so the focus has to be 100%. Everybody has to be all in and give it their all these next two games for our seniors."
Head coach Jason Simpson
Opening statement... "I am proud of their effort and how hard they played. I thought we showed some maturity at times, but I thought we had some opportunities and we let those get away from us. Fourth-and-inches, we were unable to convert because our fullback went the wrong way.
"Obviously, it was going to be a tough road for us to run the football on them. Our game plan was to come in and use our receivers and I thought for the most part we were very accurate. The offensive line did a great job; I'm pretty sure they did not give up a sack and Mike Hicks made some plays, so I am proud of those guys. Each week they become a better offense; one week we will run the ball and the next week we might throw the ball.
"What I told the guys was this: we had a tremendous opportunity to come down here. I think Coach Tuberville and the entire coaching staff for allowing us to come, but we"ll never be happy with just keeping the game close. It's the not the kind of program that we want to be. Now we"ll go home and get ready for Southeast Missouri. We have two games left in our conference and the ultimate goal is to get to the conference playoffs."
Was your team phased by the size of the stadium? "It helped playing South Florida the first game of the year. Do I ever want to play two games like this in a season again? Probably not. Because we were a little wide-eyed against South Florida, we kind of knew what to expect coming into this game. We are a better football team than we were the first part of the year. I think I might have stifled our offense in the first game of the year as far as play calling goes. I tried to be too conservative and ended up turning the ball over and you can't beat big teams like this by being conservative; you have to try to make big plays down the field because you're not going to get enough 2 or 3-yard runs to keep moving the chains. It was kind of my fault against South Florida, but today we kind of let it fly a little bit and made a couple of big plays and kept it interesting into the fourth quarter."
On Auburn"s defensive pressure on the quarterback... "There were times when they heated us up. They had one single safety and we still had to max protect and throw and catch a little bit. It's hard to get a game plan together when you can't run the ball with that type of [defensive] front. They are a defense that has been holding guys to 15 points a game. We watched the LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State tape; they smother people running the football. We had to try a different avenue today. They converted and represented their community well."
On the time of UT Martin's defense on the field... "They made their field goals when we stopped them and we had some good kick off returns. I wasn't completely happy with our special teams because we let them run the first kick off back. But I am probably as proud of our team for responding to that than I am anything else in the game. It was loud in there and they were able to run the football back and I know the crowd thought, "Oh well, here comes another homecoming opponent", but we responded and got a special teams touchdown of our own on the punt. That was good to see."
Quarterback Cade Thompson
On throwing success... "Weak side was open, so we took advantage of that. They would roll the safeties down strong and we had one-on-one coverage on the backside, giving us some windows to throw in, so we tried to take advantage of that as much as we could."
On facing defensive pressure... "They got a little heat on me, but my line overall did a great job. There were a couple times that I got hit after I threw the ball, but that's all that I can ask for is my line to hold up as long as it takes me to throw the ball." On the South Florida game in preparation for Auburn" "It helped a lot. Everybody"s nerves calmed down and we were able to start out pretty big in this game making it 7-7."
On UT Martin"s transfers from the SEC... "It couldn't hurt that they had been here before. It always helps to have those guys who have been in the big stadiums and know what to expect."
On missed opportunities... "We kept shooting ourselves in the foot on offense. I two picks and we had a fumble and we just can't do that if we want to win a ball game. Overall, I think the offense, except for turnovers, played pretty well."
Wide Receiver Mike Hicks
On having played in big games before" "This is my second time here [in Jordan-Hare Stadium]. I told the guys that between the lines it is still 100 yards like anywhere else and we just need to play ball."
On halftime moral... "We actually felt that we should have been winning. There weren't any sad faces, but we weren't too happy either. We don't just accept defeat because they are Auburn, we were trying to get our game plan together and get the win."
On finding open looks... "From watching film, we saw that they played a lot of off coverage, so 5 and 6-yard routes would be open making second downs easier. We were just taking what they would give us. The few times that the safeties played up, we went deep."
On the special team's spark... "We he was going up the sideline, we were all there going crazy. It's always exciting, but it wasn't anything new for us."
Cornerback Dorsett Pendleton
On the difference in players... "As far as receivers, there isn't a big difference. They are probably a little bit stronger."
On playing well against a second FBS school...
"It means a lot to the program. We felt like we were trying to make history by winning here. We don't accept defeat, we"re not happy just sticking with them because they are Auburn. They are players just like we are. We know we can play with anybody."