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Nov. 19, 2005

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"I am really proud of this football team. When we started, most people thought I was crazy when I said we had as much talent as last year. When you have to earn respect, for some reason we have had to earn it the last couple years. There is no doubt who was going to win that football game tonight after about the first five or six minutes. Our guys made a statement. I'm proud of our seniors. I'm proud of our coaching staff. It has been just an excellent year for us. We were just a couple of plays away from something that a lot of people didn't think we could do two years in a row. I'm really excited about tonight and winning the state championship again for four years in a row. It was an outstanding performance out of our defense. Our defensive coaches did a heck of a job in game-planning. Eleven sacks*it has to be a record. It was a beautiful sight. I know that. Brandon Cox, what can you say about him. We didn't ask him to do anything in the second half, but that first half performance under pressure* That's the best defense we've seen all year. They are well-coached. They played with their hands and had great technique. Man, do they run the football? It showed. We didn't have one of our better offensive performances, but they had a lot to do with that. I don't think there is any doubt who the best running back in this conference this year after tonight after rushing for over 100 yards against that defense. I am proud of all of them. It has been a great year. 9-2 under the circumstances, we would have loved to have a couple more, but we'll take this. It is a big win in the state. We look forward to the bowl game."

(Did you do anything different on defense) "It's the same stuff we've played. We moved our front a little bit and tried to confuse their offensive line. It looked like they were a little bit confused on their stunts. I just thought several times it was just effort. We didn't speed rush as much. We did more of what we call bull rush. We put them on their heels and run them back into their quarterback's face. I thought Don Dunn and Terry Price did a good job of getting these guys ready to play. We didn't blitz that much. It was more of a four-man rush."



(On Auburn's crowd) "Anytime you are playing at home, that is home field advantage. Our crowd got into it. Our players got our crowd into it early. Offensively, we went down there and scored after we stopped them on their first drive. Everything worked for us. We turn around the second half and everything kind of went there way in the third quarter. Fortunately for us, our defense stood up. We held them out of the end zone until right there at the end. We had some of our backups in there. Again, It was a great defensive performance on both sides."

(On the first 10 minutes of the game) "I was kind of amazed. We lost Al Borges in the middle of the second quarter. He got what we call 'slobberknocked.' I thought I heard someone else calling the plays. I didn't know he got run over. I walked down and Al was flat on his back. I thought he was hurt, but he shook it off. We'll give him a yellow jersey next week when we come back to practice. It was a great start, but you need to do that in big games. Our guys have pretty much done that most of the year. Last week, we took the opening drive 96 yards and scored in a tough environment. It was good execution in the first half. ( We didn't mean to take the air out of the ball, but we just got so bad a field position in the third quarter that we decided to punt and see what our defense could do and it worked out."

(On beating Alabama four-straight years) "Four in a row and five SEC Western Division Championships in six years. I know it is going to be probably a tie unless we get something to happen between Arkansas and LSU. It was just a miraculous year with how these guys played. Nobody gave them a chance. We are going to go to a good bowl game somewhere.

"We knew that coming off last week's game that our guys had a lot of confidence. We knew that we were going to play the best team that we have seen. The whole plan was to get the momentum going our way and get our fans into it. Both offense and defense did a great job and our kicking game did a heck of a job executing what we wanted to do. We wanted to run misdirection. They fly to the football so fast that we put two or three different plays in the first half and everyone of them worked to perfection and kept them off balance a little bit. They are good on defense. I am glad some of those guys are gone."

(On Auburn's seniors) "I am proud of all these seniors. Not many players who played here at Auburn can say they never lost a game to their in-state rival. That's pretty special to be able to say that."

(On Jonathan Wilhite) "Wilhite really made some big plays. They tried to stretch the field and get the tight end down the field like Georgia did last week. I thought our guys did a good job of working on what we did wrong last week. We didn't turn guys loose on bootleg passes as we did a week ago. It was a much-improved defense, obviously. I know they were struggling a little bit on the offensive line."

(On Auburn) "We have a lot of speed on the team. There are some areas that we aren't as experienced. We knew what we had coming back at running back if we started getting the momentum with them. Our offensive line played well all year. Jonathan Palmer played well tonight at center. I want to say something about him. He is a guy who stepped in and did a tremendous job. It all starts with your seniors, the guys who have played in this game before. All week long, all the young guys stepped up and talked about game experience. They weren't going to let this get away from them. I felt confident all week about this game."

(On Auburn practicing next week) "It is going to be hard to practice down at the beach because that is where I am going to be. All the players are going to be at home as we do every year. We send them home. It is Thanksgiving. I told them I want them to be thankful for what they have done this year and be thankful for their teammates. We will watch the game next Friday and if things go our way, we'll meet back here in the afternoon on Saturday. That will give them the next day to get back and we will have meetings and get ready to start practice on Sunday. Playing Georgia, four or five days is plenty. I think we just played those guys. There won't be a lot of planning. Our coaches are going to go out of town this week and take a 3-4 day vacation. School is out, and then we'll be back next week either for the bowl game or the SEC Championship Game."

(On the rankings) "I don't know why. We've won 24 out of the last 26 games. We have a good football team. We have for the last couple of years. Some people for some reason don't want to give us credit, but that's fine. As I told our team tonight, a lot of people may have turned it off at halftime. We've pretty much earned respect from people who watched this football team. We should be a top 10 team. As I told people at the beginning of the year, I told people that this team should be in the top 10 and we should crack that. Even if we don't make the championship game, we would like to have somebody look at us to possibly go to the BCS because we will bring a lot of folks. That's a pretty good commercial right there.

(Who gets the game ball?) "Game ball. We will probably do that when we come back. We will look at the film. There are so many guys who played well. One guy that stand out that someone mentioned earlier is Jonathan Wilhite. He just played a heck of a football game. The defensive backs have become better all year long. This team has really improved from top to bottom. This is the best coaching job that I have seen a coaching staff do since I've been coaching. I have stayed out of their way, and they have really done a good job of motivating the players and continuing to teach technique. It has been fun to watch with this group of guys we have working for us."

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