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Auburn 40, Georgia 17 - Quotes
Nov. 11, 2017

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NO. 10 AUBURN VS. NO. 2 GEORGIA
November 11, 2017
Jordan-Hare Stadium | Auburn, AL

Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn

Opening Statement...
"First of all, I'm extremely proud of our team. It was a huge win for us. They seized the moment. We talked about this being a great opportunity for us and for our guys to seize the moment tonight on the field. I'm really proud of our fans. Our fans were off the charts the whole game. They really helped us win this football game. A couple of keys going into this football game that we felt like we had to do to win was stop the run. I think we did that. Hats off to our defense. We talked about how we had to run the ball this week, and we ran for 235 (yards). Kerryon Johnson is one of the best running backs in the country, if not the best. He proved it tonight. He needs to be in the Heisman talk. I'm very proud of him, not just rushing-wise, he had a huge reception too. He does a lot of different things in protection. We started out the game having to kick three field goals in the red zone, it was a tough start. We started to get some momentum and get some big plays. We got into the second half and the fourth quarter, and I felt like we really won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Big win, it puts ourselves in a great position to play for the SEC West here in two weeks. I'm real proud of our team."

On what has come together since LSU...
"That was an extremely tough loss. When you face adversity you either get better from it or you fold your tent. Our team got better from it. We've played really good football since then. Our guys have been urgent. We've been talking about championship urgency the last three weeks, and they're doing it. They carried it over to the field tonight against one of the better teams in America. We beat them soundly."

On Jarrett Stidham...
"Jarrett [Stidham] played great. We had some trouble at first protecting the first couple of drives and then things settled down. We were able to run the football and mix it up a little bit. I'm really proud of Jarrett. He had the running touchdown, and I feel that was big. When he runs it just enough, I think it changes everything."

On Jarrett Stidham's decision making...
"I thought he did a great job. You see his quick release, and those are all on him. He just has to have the instincts, and he's doing that. I'm very proud of our offensive line. Darius James tried playing again, Mike Horton is probably 85 percent, so we had two of our other guys in there against one of the best defensive fronts. I think coming into the game they were one of the better rushing defenses in America."

On Kerryon Johnson...
"I don't know if there is a better running back out there. If so, I'd like to see it. He's one of the better players in college football, and he's proven that time and time again. I'm proud of our offensive line too, they imposed their will on them in the second half."

On the progress of the season...
"We knew we were a good team. We had some growing pains early. We had some adversity, things happened, and we didn't respond great. We continue to get better. I've said it before; top teams will find ways to get better. I feel like we did tonight. We still have a lot in front of us, but tonight we played well."

On Kerryon topping 1,000 yards...
"I think it's yet to be seen, but he's in that conversation [of comparison to previous Auburn running backs]. I think we've had a 1,000-yard rusher every year since I've been here, and he fits in that mold. We'll see at the end."

On the defense making an instant adjustment in the beginning...
"Give them credit. They're a good team. They've trashed everyone they've played up front. The running backs have run wild against good defenses. We settled down. We talked about how we were going to have to weather some storms. After that when we settled down and stopped that run, we were getting them before they got going. We've got one of the best defenses in the country. They proved it again tonight. We might've just played our best game up front. They took on the challenge."

On Darius Slayton...
"He got rolled up in the first quarter, so we were worried about him there in the first quarter. He wasn't 100 percent the way he finished, but he made that play when he rolled into the end zone. He's starting to come along. He can really run."

On seizing the moment...
"It was special. It felt really good tonight. It feels like it's coming together. Our crowd was unbelievable, and our guys gave them something to cheer about. It was a good win and a good night."

On third-down defense...
"Our third down defense was really good tonight. We weren't great on third down offense. That was probably our negative. You have to give them credit, though, because they did a good job with their third-down defense. Our third-down defense did well, and that's good to do against a bunch like that. I think they came in being one of the best third-down offenses."

On capitalizing on mistakes...
"You have to. When you're playing a good team, you have to capitalize when you have the opportunity. We did that tonight. Like I said, slow start with the three field goals at first and the third-down offense was probably our only negative of the night."

On Jeff Holland and adjusting throughout the whole year...
"Jeff is a dynamic player, a lot of times we were putting him back and chipping on him. We felt like if he could put constant pressure on the quarterback we could stop the running game, make him respond a little bit to our defense and our crowd."

On having a chance to play for the SEC West in two weeks...
"Honestly just proud of our team. Our goal was to win the SEC Championship, and here we are November 11th, and we are right in the middle of it. Our dreams are still alive. After the LSU game I said it wasn't the end of the world, and what I meant by that is that we still control our own destiny. We beat a very good team, handily, and I think they are healthy right now, I don't think there is anything that is keeping us from moving forward. We've got another non-conference game next week and then we play another number one team the next week, and our team is ready to handle it for the next three weeks."

On the overall importance of tonight's win...
"It felt great. Our team seized the moment. It was a huge moment, and our team seized the moment. I think everyone in this room knows that."

On scoring 40-plus points in 6 of 7 SEC games this year...
"It's really something. We're balanced, we can run the football, our vertical passing is good. We've been pretty efficient with that and we are playing with pace."

Jarrett Stidham, So. QB

On how he has improved with decision making...
"I feel comfortable. Obviously each week its something I want to work on. As a quarterback, you can never be too comfortable. So just trying to get better every week and hone in on those skills and get better.'

On if contending for championships was what he expected when he came to Auburn...
"Absolutely. This is why you play college football. Especially at a place like Auburn. I thought coming into this situation that we obviously have a great football team and I knew what kind of team we could have. It's just a matter of executing and being that team".

On the slow start...
"We started executing a lot better and started getting first downs."

Deshaun Davis, Jr. LB

On beating the No. 1 team...
"This is big for our team. Everybody kind of counted us out when we took that loss to LSU, but one thing about our unit is that we always stick together. We never let an outside group of people come in and breakup what we got. We know we have a good team on the offensive side of the ball and defensive side of the ball. We're just happy and we beat a good Georgia team. I'm just happy for my team right now."

On how the defense dominated the game...
"What we wanted to do as a defense was to come in and make a statement. A lot of people counted us out. They thought that Georgia was going to run the ball all up and down on us. We came into this game saying that we were gone hold them under 100 yards and we held them under 50. They tried multiple times to run the ball, but it all starts up front. Our defensive line played great. I feel like we played great as linebackers and our safeties came down the field. We played great as an unit. Coach Steele challenges us to be an elite group. He challenged us all week to go from good to elite and I feel like we did that."

Kerryon Johnson, Jr. RB

What has changed since the second half of the LSU game...
"I think the biggest difference is that we learned to finish. The LSU game we were doing the same things to those guys that we did here in the first half. We just didn't finish and we kind of took our foot off the gas. We learned to finish and we learned what was necessary to do and I think the proof is in the pudding.

On Coach Malzahn saying that his name should be in the Heisman trophy race... "I appreciate it from him seeing that he's coached a few guys in that conversation and guys that have won it. So, I appreciate it that from him, but until it's in there then it's not in there. I just keep going out, I run and run and if it gets in there you know it's pretty cool. It's always been a dream of mine. I've never thought that I'd get to that level, but it'd be pretty awesome to see."

Nick Coe, RFr. DL

On his strip fumble...
"I wish somebody else could've got on the ball after I hit him like that, but I saw the whole side collapse and I wrapped around and he was just standing there waiting on me."

On the defense having fun...
"We're just enjoying ourselves. Whenever you have a team that's enjoying themselves it'll show in the way that we play. We've been playing good all year because we're enjoying ourselves. It's not really a task, we're just having fun and enjoying ourselves."

Ryan Davis, Jr. WR

On it being a blowout win...
"We knew that it was going to be a tough game. We always credit Georgia because they always have great talent. A great defense and they do a great job with their schemes as well, but you never go into a game expecting to blowout the number one team. When you're executing and everything is going right for you and everyone is making plays then it can happen."

On all the units making big plays... "You just feed off it because it's a lot of energy. It feels like everybody is just constantly making plays and when nobody is making plays, it seems like everybody is looking to see who gone make a play. When different guys are making plays it just feels good and you feel confident in the play calls to go out there and execute."

Darius Slayton, So. WR

On his emotions leading up to the game...
"I was trying to control my emotions all week and I kept telling myself to just wait until Saturday. It finally came and I'm just excited that it went this way."

On the Auburn fan base...
"They were incredible. Our fans were definitely surreal and it's probably one of the best atmospheres that I've experienced since I've been here. I just thank everyone for coming out and doing a great job.

Tray Matthews, Sr. DB

On how he's feeling...
"I feel great! We came out with a lot of confidence. Coach Steele had already said from the beginning that we were all going to take a picture after the game after we won. We came out with a lot of energy. It's just an exciting feeling. It feels like everything is coming like I wanted it to come."

On the slow start...
"I think it was just the jitters at first because we usually don't play like that from the beginning. It's about the next play mentality, which Coach Steele preaches all the time. Coach Malzahn said we were going to face adversity earlier before we played and we faced it early and got through it. We handled it well."

On how to stop such a prolific offense and run game ...
"It's big time. Kudos to our coaches for having a good game plan. We do tackling drills every single day so we came in and we knew we had to tackle well."

Marquel Harrell, So. OL

On how the team feels about controlling their own destiny...
"Even though you want to think about the title, you don't think about the title because it's one game at a time. You have to focus on the next game. Georgia was our main focus. Next week we have ULM and that's where our focus is."

On how the team prepared for the No. 1 team... "We prepared, but everybody came with it. We just had that chip on your shoulder, that sense of urgency. That's what Coach Malzahn was preaching the whole time. I think that we had a really good week of practice this week and that helped."

Daniel Carlson, Sr. K

On his kickoffs today...
"There was a couple of different things. The wind and we just decided to change some things up."

On his three field goals in first quarter...
"It started out early. That first one was a big one for momentum. I knew the defense was going to make some stops and that every point was going to matter and eventually we got rolling on the offense and those guys set me up nice and close for a couple of short field goals."

On the upcoming Alabama game...
"That's always a special game for me growing up watching a lot of Alabama football. First things first, we are going to worry about next week and take care of that and then I'm sure that will be a fun game to go into."

On the weather affecting his game
"The wind affects it always as a kicker. I think on kickoffs that was some of what was happening. There was some other things going on. Field goals obviously went well and I adjusted to the wind well."

Derrick Brown, So. DL

On to next games...
"Everyone else is just worried about the talk. One thing we do and that our coaches make sure of, we stay humble. And as we play, we practice all week and do the same things we usually do."

On when they realized that stopping the run immobilized Georgia...
"I think that we definitely put a lot of pressure on Jake Fromm. You go out there, take the game from out of his hands, I mean Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are incredible running backs. This is one that you put behind you, celebrate it tonight while this last, but get ready to go back to work tomorrow."

On the electric atmosphere tonight...
"Seeing Jordan-Hare so wild, I mean just looking all around, it's interesting. Hoping we gave the fans a little bit of fun to fill, but at the end of the day, it is what it is.

Braden Smith, Sr. OL

On the next few weeks...
"We knew we had to win this one to achieve our goals of going to the SEC Championship. We're taking it one game at a time. It's a big win and we'll enjoy it tonight and move on to ULM the next day."

On scoring 30 unanswered points...
"We knew we were going to have adversity and they're a number one team for a reason. You just got to keep chipping away and eventually they'll break."

On Kerryon Johnson...
"It's definitely exciting to see him out there. He can make big plays at any moment and he's just a great back."

Ryan Davis, Jr. WR

On his touchdown...
"It was a big touchdown. It gave us a stretch and gave us even more momentum. The crowd was rocking and had a lot of energy. We just needed to play. We got in the red zone a lot of times and came up with field goals. But we got some touchdowns and I didn't want to settle for a field goal."

On how big this win is...
"It was very big for us. Just going for it is a big stepping stone. I feel like we still haven't played our best ball yet. I feel like we still have some improvements to work on with certain things. It was a great win and it was electric. We have to credit the crowd because they just came with a lot of energy and we fed off it."

Marlon Davidson, So. DL

On playing a freshman quarterback...
"We knew from the beginning of the game that a freshman quarterback in a big game like this or any freshman in general, would freeze up. Just coming out there with him and getting in his way, shaking him up a little bit and have a little fun and that's all we had to do."

On holding Georgia to 46 rushing yards...
"It's a party. We got a party tonight. We're trying to do a lot more and just recap on the game. We had a great defensive game and to have our defense to play that good, that's unbelievable."

On confidence coming in...
"Of course we had confidence, we felt like we were going to win from the get-go. But as the game goes on, you never know. You fight through adversity. A team had never scored on the first drive on us all year and that one hurt us so we said that wasn't going to happen anymore."

Eli Stove, So. WR

On whether he and the team knew they could be this good... "We knew we had to play and everyone had to give 100 percent effort. Best players have to be on the field. Everybody has to make plays. It's a big game and everyone is just trying to do their jobs." On if there was any adjustments after kicking three field goals... "No, just adjusting to formations that the defense was giving us and the certain formations that we had. Really the same. Just executing everything."

On whether is they can get better offensively...
"We have more in the tank, for sure. We're going to get better and better every day.

On knocking off the No. 1 team in the nation at home...
"It feels great because it was Georgia. We are going to celebrate this win and then we are going to come back to practice next week and focus on the next team."

On if he could feel the crowd support...
"Oh yeah. I'm glad that they came out. I was hoping that they wouldn't leave."

Stephen Roberts, Sr. DB

On whether he thought they would be where they are right now after losing to LSU...
"Not necessarily, but we kept the faith and kept practicing because we knew that it would come down to big games like this where you have to have big plays to win. It was kind of a shock to us, but we knew coming in that we were ready to play

On whether he was surprised at how well they were at stopping Chubb and Michel...
"That just shows how much of a defense we got. How if all of us come together as one defense, things can happen, like it did tonight with 46 rushing yards. I think that our whole defense did great."

On his first win against Georgia...
"I'm truly blessed. Last year, I had seniors that came up to me saying that they needed this big game for them. I think it was a blessing for us to get that win, especially with it being my senior year. It was my first time beating them and I am glad it was at home."

On the muffed punt turning the tide of the game...
"It is a good way to get momentum on the playing field. With the offense doing what they can do and the defense doing the same thing, we are going to be hard to beat. It's just a momentum thing for us."

On the defensive confidence...
"We practice all week to be the greatest defense ever. Our team all came together tonight and had a couple of big stops on third down. Our linebackers fit the run really well and the d-line, it started up front with them. I think that everyone came together and played as one."

On who is the best dancer on the team (during timeouts)...
"Jeff Holland. Him and Nick Ruffin, they were doing something crazy. It's really fun. Our coach always tells us that there is a time where you can have fun and play around, but there is a time where you have to be serious and be focused. The thing that we preach on is being ourselves and playing to the whistle. Even playing between the whistle as well."

Jeff Holland, Jr. OLB

On what kind of adjustments he had to make...
"I have a counter move now. The tight end tries to chip me, so I'm adding new moves to my repertoire."

On the total defensive performance...
"It was fun. Stopping the run was one of our big keys. We wanted to stop the run and we had to pin our ears back and get sacks."

On holding Georgia to under 100 yards rushing...
"It was big. Going into the game, we were telling everyone to hold their gaps. We have two tackles to hold the points and they did a great job at that.

On the fans tonight
"It was great. It was rocking. It brought us energy. "

On being in the moment and what's ahead...
"We want to seize the moment. Coach Malzahn emphasizes to seize the moment, but we also have to focus. Get back to practice, do what we do, execute and play relentless."


Head Coach Kirby Smart

Opening Statement...
"First off, give a lot of credit to Auburn and Gus' staff. They did a tremendous job. They were more physical than us on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Every SEC game that I have ever been a part of, if you lose the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, you don't have a great chance of a good outcome. I thought it was a momentum game. We certainly lost the momentum there with some really uncharacteristic penalties. Throw that in with the fact that they were more physical than us, they controlled the line of scrimmage, were able to run it at will, and they stopped our run. So you shake their hand, tell them they did a good job, and we have to pick it up and go get better. Kentucky is not going to feel sorry for us. So humility is always a week away. This team will answer and respond the right way because we have some good leaders in that room, and they want to improve upon what they just showed."

On the change of success offensively after the good first drive...
"We had a big conversion on that drive, and that's what you need on these guys. You have to get extra downs. They are hard to run the ball on. They were hard to run the ball on that drive because that's what brought up the third down. I thought we executed well there, and then after that we didn't execute well. We struggled to get off of press-man. They do a good job of getting their hands on you, and they just whooped us up front. The bottom line is we couldn't move them."

On if he was surprised that they struggled on the things he preaches every week...
"Yes. The out of bounds penalty, the halo penalty and the 'jumping over the ship' penalty were uncharacteristic. We never do that. We never 'jump over the ship.' I talked to them about that. That's what's disappointing because it was out of character, and in a hostile environment I resorted to things I don't normally do. That's the disappointing part, but that's not what won or lost the game. It was the line of scrimmage and their physicality, but what made it so lop-sided were the undisciplined penalties."

On if the team can learn something from this...
"I certainly think so. You learn from every experience, positive or negative, and we are going to learn from this one. We have to play our brand of football. We have to execute. We have to be disciplined. We don't have to play perfect, but we have to play smart. Riley [Ridley]'s play over the middle, that changes the momentum of the game, and we didn't make the plays. At the end of the day, you give Auburn credit. They did a great job, and they were more physical than us. That's the bottom line."

On the change of momentum after the muffed punt by Mecole Hardman...
"It's tough on Mecole [Hardman]. He catches hundreds and hundreds of those punts, and he knows that he wanted to run up and get under it and didn't get his arms tucked. Mecole is a really good player. He's is going to make a lot of plays around here, and he's starting to develop and gain confidence with what you saw today. You saw some of the return game that he is capable of. He wishes he had it back, but that's part of football. Mecole is going to have things that happen to him in life that are going to be a lot tougher than that."

On his decision to run the ball at the end of the first half instead of throwing...
"It was not a good decision there -- probably a mistake. If we had it to do over again, we would've definitely thrown the ball. The thinking was that we didn't want to get knocked out of field goal range, but we should have thrown the ball, no doubt."

On why the undisciplined mistakes came in this game specifically...
"I can't put a finger on it. Honestly, we preach it hard. It's part of our program. It's part of what we do every day -- making sure every kid understands the discipline you have to play with. When you lose that discipline you get what you had here tonight, and that's undisciplined, foolish penalties. When you play a good team you can't get away with that. You can't give them an extra drive. It exposes you when you have undisciplined penalties because you're playing longer, you're getting less chances to run the ball and wear them down. We didn't tackle really well tonight either."

On Jake Fromm dealing with Auburn's pass rush...
"I thought [Jake Fromm] made some good decisions. Jake is a battler. If he showed anything tonight it was that he can move in the pocket. They have some good rushers. That front is a really good front. We showed the ability at the end to still be able to move the ball and throw it when they had the good rushers still in. At the end of the day, I thought Jake played well. He played hard and made good decisions."

On a possible discussion on passing the ball more often...
"There's always a discussion about that. Part of it is because there were some sacks involved in there, too. But there's a discussion every drive. With Auburn, if you throw it every play, you will get in trouble because they have really good pass rushers. The threat of running the ball has to slow down the pass rushers, and we tried to maintain that threat. I just don't think we did a good job."

On what was uncharacteristic of Georgia's defensive play...
"First characteristic is that they have good players. They have a great back who is very patient behind the line of scrimmage. We talked about it the whole week. (Kerryon Johnson) waits and then he bursts. He is a great running back, and he totally bellowed our defense. I have a lot of respect for his toughness and the offensive line's toughness. We didn't keep our edges well. He bounced out and made some plays. They are hard to defend. With all that said, we did not play that well defensively. We did not get off the field with the punt. We just gave them a lot of things. They punched us in the mouth, and we did not respond to it. We did not stop the run like we are capable of."

On what was happening with the offensive line tonight...
"They were more physical than us, on both sides. They played more physical than us in both ways. I always say in coaching 'it's not as bad as it seems, and it's never as good as it seems.' We will watch the tape and there will be some plays that we missed, as well as some opportunities that we missed. At the end of the day, you have to credit Auburn. They came out and played more physical than we did tonight."

On Riley's missed catch...
"I don't even think it matters. We didn't catch it. I'm not looking to blame anybody. I actually think it was an opportunity missed, and it was one of several opportunities that we missed. We have to give Auburn credit. They have good players. They played really physical football, and they dominated us."

On how the defense handled Auburn's fast offense...
"At times, we were able to give them a couple of negative plays on fast-pace plays. They do a great job at trying to create chaos. We have to do a better job as coaches to help our guys to get lined up and be able to keep responding to the fast pace. That's always a challenge. It's not my first time playing them that we had to worry about tempo. We know what comes with it, and we have to do a better job preparing for it to give our guys a chance."

On the team talk he gave the players after their first loss...
"The season is not built in one game. This team will be defined by how they respond, not by how they did tonight. We have a lot of leaders in that room that need to go play a really good Kentucky team next week. Our whole deal is how you respond to some adversity. Things did not go your way, but how are you going to respond? That is all across college football, and you have to respond the right way."

On the involvement he has with leaders...
"I'm very involved. It's tough emotionally. It's tough when you are out there in that environment and things are not going well. You don't respond with undisciplined things. That's not indicative of who you are and not Georgia's brand of football. You can't do that against a good team and give them 100 yards of penalties."

On how important it is to stay positive after a tough loss...
"I'm the one in charge. I'm the one responsible of what we just did out there. I'm not running away from that. We didn't play the way we are capable of, and our kids understand and respect that. Now we have to respond. That's why we do all the stuff we do. This is just an opportunity for our leaders to come forth, including me."

On getting back on track after a loss...
"It's a wake-up call for some of those guys. Auburn had a better game plan and they beat us physically. Our job is to respond the right way and move on now to Kentucky. You don't want Auburn to beat you twice. You go get ready to play Kentucky."

On if he sensed the outcome of the game during practice...
"We had good practices. It wasn't a matter of that. It was a matter of them playing more physical, executing better and being more disciplined."

Nick Chubb, Sr. RB

On how to deal with the emotions of this loss...
"We need to bottle up our emotions. It's good to get that first practice after the game in and get the bad taste out of our mouth. We will continue to get better at practice."

On if they can use this for motivation...
"Definitely. We need to keep everyone's heads up and keep the guys going. We need to keep practicing hard."

On Auburn's defensive line...
"It is hard to tell right now what went wrong. Those guys just came out and played hard."

On where Georgia goes from here...
"We need to just continue to get better. We need to refocus and keep practicing hard."

On why it was tough to run against Auburn...
"They play hard, fast and physical. They did a lot of great things against us."

Sony Michel, Sr. RB

On getting down early...
"It brought us another perspective. At the end of the day, it shows our players to just keep fighting."

On his personal foul and discipline issues...
"Discipline is something that we have to focus on. We just had some undisciplined penalties, including myself, and that can't happen. We have to take full responsibility. Passion gets mixed in with emotions and sometimes you make bad decisions. You have to eliminate those to win games."

On Auburn's defense taking the run away...
"They were more physical up front. Our goal is to come out and be more physical, and we didn't do that today. We need to go back and fix that and move on."

On possibly playing Auburn again in the SEC Championship...
"Whatever is destined to happen is going to happen. We are just going to focus on our next opponent. We aren't going to overlook any opponent. We played a great team tonight, and we are about to play another great team next week."

Javon Wims, Sr. WR

On Auburn...
"They are a good football team, and we just have to stick to getting better."

On Georgia's early success in the passing game...
"The opportunities were there. We just ended up short tonight."

On the Georgia offense putting too much pressure on the defense...
"We have to do a better job putting us in better situations. Auburn has an unbelievable defense, but there was a lot of things we normally don't do that happened tonight. We had a solid game plan and made some solid adjustments early. Auburn was just the better team tonight."


 

 

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