Auburn Postgame Quotes
Auburn vs. Alabama
November 24, 2007
Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
"It was a typical Iron Bowl. There was a lot of defense. There was a lot of hard hitting. You had guys on both sides playing hard. We knew we would get a good shot from them after not playing very well last week. We knew we would get a good shot from them. They played well. They did a good job coaching. They did some things that kept us confused, but that's what this game is about. It all comes down to who wins in the trenches and we had a lot of guys that played hard. We didn't protect too well in the first half. I thought Coach (Hugh) Nall did a good job of adjusting at halftime. I thought the offensive line was a key in the second half. They were a little bit more consistent. Brad Lester was a little short of 100 yards. He made a lot of plays.
"What can you say about Brandon Cox? He is a kid who has never lost to Alabama. He came in here and struggled very early in his career as a freshman and went home. He came back and to go out tonight and do what he did ... it wasn't pretty, but he got the job done. He got us in a lot of great plays. I want to thank all the seniors for what they have done. I want to thank them for their efforts and the fifth-year guys that won 49 games and the four-year guys that won 41 games. In this league, that is almost impossible. There is an accumulation of a lot of hard work from the coaches and players, Coach Yoxall, the strength coach, and his staff and our fans. I've read a lot of history about Auburn, and there were times when Auburn struggled a little bit. I hope they can be proud now in what this team's done by beating our in-state rival six games in a row. That is for people to talk about. It's not something we just look at. We look at going out and playing well and beating the team that we are playing. It is truly a fan game. This is for you. This is for the fans who have struggled over the years and wanted to see something like this happen and it happened. I am so proud of everybody involved. It was a great crowd tonight. Again both sides fought hard. It was a clean hard battle, and we were just very fortunate to come out and win the game. We finished on a strong note, and hopefully we will get a good bowl game and still try to get a little better."
Did you ever think it was possible to beat Alabama six straight years?:
"I was just hoping to beat them a few times. When I got here, my record wasn't very good against Alabama as a head coach. We lost our first year at home, and it was the first time they ever lost here at home. The next year, we won on the road and we come back the next year and didn't play very well. Since then, coaches have put their noses to the grindstone and worked very hard. It is always a hard game to prepare for. It is a hard game to get the momentum back and forth and to get it in your favor, but to do this six times in a row is an accomplishment of the players and the coaches have a little to do something to do with it. This is truly a players game and in turn being a fans game, they really get into it and get the players motivated."
On the interception right before the half:
"It was huge. We struggled in the second quarter. All year long it was one quarter or another where we had problems. We put up 10 quick points and the second quarter, we put our defense with their back to the wall a couple of times with the interception and of course, the big kickoff return. You can't say enough about the defense.
"Josh Thompson comes in and he gave a good speech last night to the team. We let all the seniors get up and say a few words for the last home game of the season. Josh gets up and was very serious how deep Auburn and how much Auburn means to him. Being a guy who is not very tall that plays on the defensive line who really doesn't look like a big-time college football player, but to play the way he did tonight. He was all over the field making his plays. He was an instrumental part of winning this game tonight. He is normally not out there a lot, but tonight he was and probably led the team in tackles just looking at it. He was just unbelievable."
Did Alabama not scoring a touchdown at the end of the half turn the game?
"It turned the momentum but not who was going to win the game because it was halftime. Our defense has stepped up a lot during the year. We knew whoever was going to win the turnover ratio usually wins this game. I would imagine with the way we played in the red zone was a big key. They came out and kicked that field goal at the end and that was a heck of a kick. It gave them an opportunity. Eddie Gran comes through with his hands team."
On Ben Tate:
"Ben Tate had a really good night. All the running backs ran hard. When you talk about this game, you talk about being physical and it all starts with the offensive line, but your running backs have to get yards after contact. It was a super, super game by the running backs breaking tackles and getting extra yards."
On Auburn's kickoff return by Robert Dunn in the fourth quarter:
"We have been waiting for that all year long. It was a low kick. It was a pretty smart coaching move. He took the wind in the fourth quarter. We had the ball with the wind going into the third quarter, and they got a very good kick but outkicked their coverage and we have been trying to get Robert to run north and south all year and he is starting to get the hang of it. That was big in terms of turning the field around, and the kick of Ryan Shoemaker. They get the ball in the fourth quarter at the 1-yard line with the wind at their back. That was probably one of the biggest keys to the game with the field position with the punt and being able to get that punt to the 1 and then with the punt return back to about the 45."
On getting over the Georgia loss two weeks ago:
"Ever since I have been here, it is an easy get over of playing Georgia whether you win or lose that game knowing that this game is right around the corner. Unfortunately, this game was two weeks away and we had to sit around a little bit longer and think about the Georgia loss. It gave us a little bit of time to get people ready to play and get their focus back on this game. They weren't going to be denied six in a row. These kids wanted to put their names in history and they did."
Auburn Player Quotes
Brad Lester, RB
On the game. . .
"It was real intense out there and that is what we expected out of Alabama today. It was supposed to be a tough game and they came out just like we expected them to, we just kept pushing and kept them back. The key coming into the game was establishing the running game and that's what we did from the start of the game. We stuck with it in the second half and just kept on running the ball and that is what it is going to take for us to win ballgames."
On his performance. . .
"I felt like I did well. That is a good defense and it seemed like they were trying to key in on the run, but our offensive line pushed through and gave me a lot of gaps. I just took what the offensive line gave me and did what I could."
Jason Bosley, OL
Being an Alabama native, how big is this win. . .
"This win is huge. We take a lot of pride in this game. I have friends and family that go to the University of Alabama, so it felt great to get a "W" out there today. You get to be state champion for a year and we just take a lot of pride in this."
On what it took to win. . .
"It was a physical game, but we grinded and ran the ball real well and I thought we played a pretty good game. This game is more a game of wills instead of who plays the best. The last man standing is the guy that wins. At the end of the game, we said `we will, we will, we will,' we quoted ourselves - it is on the back of our shirts: `I Will, Iron Bowl 2007' and we will and we did."
Ben Tate, RB
On the crowd support. . .
"It was live out there, energetic. The crowd was Jordan-Hare at its best. It was huge, just being so loud and keeping their offense off and from clicking and it gave us that extra push that we needed sometimes."
On what it took to win the game. . .
"We were just running hard and being physical. We out-physicaled them for four quarters and that won us the game. We wanted to show them that we were men and they weren't. We went out there from the start to be more physical than them and win this game."
Brandon Cox, QB
On the game atmosphere. . .
"The atmosphere was crazy and it was another one of those games that went back and forth and we found a way to win. It was the Iron Bowl, that's all you can say. The crowd and the fans were amazing."
On picking up the final touchdown in the fourth quarter. . .
"We tried to score that touchdown all second half and we knew that if we put one in there, it would put our defense in a lot better situation and probably win us the game. We got a good punt return that put us in good position and we found the end zone. Our defense came back on the field after that and was huge. They won us back the ball and we were able to just run it out from there."
On being the second quarterback ever at Auburn to beat Alabama three times. . .
"Being in the same category as Jason Campbell and never losing to Alabama, us seniors, we never lost, it feels awesome. To have never lost to that team, you can't get any better than that."
Jerraud Powers, DB
"Rolando McClain and I went to the same high school. He got his interception and I knew I need to come back and do the same. I knew they usually like to go to threw end zone after a turnover. I had a feeling they were coming with the fade and when they threw it up I was in great position."
On position battle in the second half...
"After last week's loss the ULM, we all knew they were going to come out fighting but we were not going to be denied. We had to limit the big plays down the field and that's what we did. It came down to determination and we came out on the good side of the stick."
On importance of walking away with a victory...
"Winning this game feels really great, especially to get it for the seniors. These guys will never get a chance to play in Jordan-Hare Stadium again. It's kind of like giving them an early Christmas present"
Tray Blackmon, LB
On Alabama offense...
"I've played them before. After last year I knew what we were getting into and they were going to give it all they had. For the seniors, it was really great for their last home game to off with a bang. I just want to hit people."
On personal performance...
"Alabama is a good team and they came out playing their hardest. You have to respect that. I just came out and played the game the way it's supposed to be played. They had some good things happen for them and we had some bad things go our way. "
Josh Thompson, NG
On beating Alabama...
"It feels great when we beat them. WE beat them all five years that I was here. We have been preparing for two weeks. They tried to run it against us, but we held them. It feels great to see that streak continue."
On his career-high 12 tackles...
"They kept trying to come up the middle at me. It feels great to set my career high at my last game in Jordan-Hare Stadium."
On the position battle in the second half...
This was a huge game for Alabama. We all knew they were going to come in and put up a fight. They kept it going. We knew it was going to be a 60-minute game coming in. They never quit and neither did we."
Alabama Postgame Quotes
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
"That was a daggone good football game. I am really proud of the way our players competed in the game. We did not start off really well, we played uptight and anxious. We dug a hole for ourselves and then we settled down and started playing pretty well. I am really proud of the way the guys competed. They kept coming back, we just couldn't convert any opportunities. You have to give Auburn's players a lot of credit. They played well throughout the game and their defense is pretty good and they run the ball effectively. We didn't stop them when we needed to stop them and we made errors in the fourth quarter, and that was the difference in the game. When you have a close game like that, the errors in the fourth quarter can't happen. Obviously the punt was not a good punt. They got a good return and good field position off of it and then we got a penalty, which would have been a third-and12 situation and would have kept it a one-score game had we been able to stop them, but they were able to convert a field goal. We had a great opportunity with the on-side kick. We didn't get a very good kick, so we just didn't make the plays down the road that we needed to.
"The most disappointing thing about this season is that we didn't finish. There are a lot of lessons to be learned by our football team and our players about finishing. We make a commitment and we have to finish. I am proud of the way these guys worked. They made a lot of progress as far as the team. We worked hard, we got bigger and stronger and we were a pretty good football team for the first eight games of the season. And then the last four games we just didn't finish the way we would like to finish. I know there is no one more disappointed in that than the players. I take full responsibility for it. I failed the players for not being able to finish the season the way we needed to. We had some adversities to overcome. We lost some players for various reasons and got some guys beat-up and nicked-up, and we didn't overcome it. Therefore we did not finish the way we would like to finish. We are looking forward to the future here, developing the players that we have and doing the best we can to recruit the best players that we can that represent the University of Alabama. We are looking forward to the challenges of the future.
On missed opportunities late in the first half...
"That was critical. We had a third-and-one and we took a shot. DJ (Hall) had a chance to actually catch the ball and the ball got tipped and Auburn made the interception. We didn't get any points out of two situations, and that was critical in the game."
On the Auburn-Alabama rivalry...
"This is a great rivalry, a great football game and I have never been involved in a football game with as much excitement and enthusiasm as this game. It's disappointing for our fans and the people that support our program that we weren't able to do a better job and come away with a win. But more than anything I am disappointed for our players. I think our players played their hearts out and really wanted to win this game. There are a lot of upset guys in there right now. As a coach you feel like there is something you wish you could have done that would help them be more successful."
On Alabama's running game...
"We felt like with their defense being what it is and their ability to pass-rush, it was kind of our theory to stay out of long passing situations on third down. We were trying to stay third-and-six-or-less so that we had a chance to control and get some conversions. I thought we ran the ball well and probably didn't pass it as well as we needed to. We allowed a few too many sacks and we lost field position at times. We also had a critical penalty that also contributed. We had a holding penalty on a second-and-six situation and that was a critical drive."
On Terry Grant missing the game...
"Terry has struggled with his hip, but we felt with the kind of runs we were going to run in this game, Roy (Upchurch) was healthy. We knew were going to play Roy and Jonathan Lowe and we were only going to play Terry if we needed to. Those guys are more physical backs. Terry is a good stage player for us, but we didn't have that many kind of plays in this game."
On Rolando McClain...
"I thought he did a great job and made a great interception. At the end of the game I know he had a lot of tackles. I know that he's probably contributed as much as anyone relative to responsibility. Being a freshman, starting early in the season and Prince (Hall) coming back and starting, Rolando did a good job of getting out there and starting today. I am pleased with the progress he has made this year. I am pleased with him as a player and a person. He is a future leader in the program and he had a really good game today."
On the back-to-back penalties...
"It was big. All these little things, when you are in a close game like this, all those things are critical. We had the ball at midfield and then we had a roughing the passer penalty and then they had a 20- or 30-yard punt return. It wasn't how long it was, it was how high it was and the hang-time. We missed a field goal and then had an opportunity before the end of the half and didn't get any points. Those are critical parts of the game."
Looking back on the losing streak...
"I think that anytime you lose football players that are starters, that doesn't help your team any. That's not an excuse, it's just a fact of the matter, especially when you have two of those starters on the offensive line. That's 40 percent of the line. Then you get a couple of guys nicked-up that take their place and the area of our team that was affected the most was the offensive line. Then other people are affected as well. You don't run the ball as well, we don't protect as well, the quarterback gets affected and during that time we didn't lose any defense. We actually made progress as a defensive team and continued to improve. But we weren't able to sustain on offense and we turned the ball over. When you look at the critical things in the games that made the difference, we had a positive turnover ratio in eight games and then you go two games and go negative six, it's hard to win. What happened, happened. My whole point of doing what's right and doing the right thing, it's important for us and the future of this program so that it doesn't ever happen again to anyone. We are going to have a standard where players do the right things on and off the field so that they have the best chance to be successful as people, as students and on the field as football players. We are going to get it right. When you get it right and you have that kind of attitude, that's when you have a chance to be successful and win, and that's what we are here to try and do."
Alabama Player Quotes
John Parker-Wilson, QB
On the season...
"We were 6-2 at one point and we felt like things were going pretty well, but then it just seemed like things stopped working and we ended up losing four in a row. It is something that we are all going to have to work on for next year. We are going to have to get better in every aspect of the game."
On the game...
"We felt like we were in it until the very end. They had the fourth-and-one on the last drive and we felt like we were still in it right up until then. The O-Line blocked very well for us tonight. The running backs ran as hard as they have all year. It just seemed like we didn't get the big plays when we needed them. The defense kept giving us a chance and getting the ball in good position."
On Auburn's defense...
"They played a lot of zone and did not want to give up the big play. They did a good job tonight of not giving us anything deep. "
On the interception by Jerraud Powers in the end zone...
"It seemed like a freak play. We had one-on-one with no safety over the top. It was hard to see what happened, but it looked like he just made a good play on the ball."
D.J. Hall, WR
On Auburn's defense...
"You have to give credit to Auburn's defensive backs. They did a good job tonight and kept us from getting big plays when we needed it."
On Jerraud Powers' interception...
"I had a chance to make the catch and just couldn't hold on to it. I had it and it popped out of my hands, and their guy was there to make the catch."
On losing six-straight a=games to Auburn...
"Losing to them is tough on us seniors. It is also tough on us as a university and for the fans. It is something we are going to have to live with for the rest of our lives. "
On Alabama's bowl chances...
"I think we deserve to go to a bowl game,but that is not my decision. We have worked hard all year and hopefully we will get the chance to play one more game."
Wallace Gilberry, DE
On losing six straight games to Auburn...
"Besides losing my great-grandmother this year, this is the toughest thing I have had to deal with. This was one of our goals as a senior class, to win this game. It is very tough on all of us."
On the season...
"We have to get 11 guys all going in the same direction. I bought in from day one. I am not saying everybody did or everybody didn't, but it is something we all need to work on and come together on as a team. Next year, I'll be my life that we do that."
On the going to a bowl game...
"Going to a bowl is an honor and a privilege and hopefully that is something we can take part in."