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Auburn vs. Alabama - Quotes
Nov. 25, 2017

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Head coach Gus Malzahn

Opening statement…
"Our team did it. We had to win five to get here, and we took it one week at a time. Now we're SEC West champs, and I couldn't be more proud of our team. We're going to Atlanta to play for the SEC Championship. At the beginning of the season, we put ourselves out there and said it was our goal. Now we're one game away from reality. Our crowd was unbelievable. That's two big games in a row our they've helped us win. We told ourselves if we were leading at the fourth quarter, we were going to win the game, and we did that. We were able to win against another top-ranked team. What really stood out to me was our defense on third down. I don't think they converted a third down until the fourth quarter. Their quarterback is really special. They're a good team, but we really talked about third-down defense. We had some explosive plays. I'm just really proud of our team, and I like where we're at."

On Chip Lindsey, Jarrett Stidham and the offense…
"Chip [Lindsey] was the perfect guy for the job. I think everyone sees that now. He's a great person, has a great mind, is really aggressive, which I like, and has a really good relationship with our quarterback. Jarrett [Stidham] was very efficient tonight."

On Jarrett Stidham running the ball…
"You do whatever you have to do to win a game. It was a game where if we had to run Jarrett [Stidham], we were going to run him. In the read-zone, he made a great run and got in the end zone. When he runs enough, it can really open things up."

On Kerryon Johnson's toughness…
"Kerryon [Johnson] is as tough as it gets. He had 30 rushing attempts again. He wants to win. He's a tough guy."

On how Chip Lindsey prepared for the game…
"Chip and his offensive staff had a great game plan. Alabama is a great defense, and I thought we ran the ball really well. We didn't hit our 200-yard rushing goal, but we had our passing-game going and Jarrett [Stidham] was very efficient. We took some chances, and I like how aggressive we were."

On Kerryon Johnson's injury status…
"He has a shoulder issue. We'll see where we're at later."

On Ryan Davis' season…
"When we recruited Ryan [Davis], we knew he was a very talented young man. There's nothing like experience, and he has two years under his belt. We challenged some of our older guys to step up and take the lead. When you give him the football with some space, he's really tough to handle. He did a super job."

On the difference from the beginning of the season…
"We're a completely different team. I'm not taking anything away from Clemson. They're a great team, and I think everyone sees that. They were No. 2 when we played them. We've played two No. 1 teams now. Back [in September] we were still trying to figure out our identity. We had a new quarterback, new coordinator and you saw us getting better and better."

On the fumble in the red zone…
"Jarrett [Stidham] is a competitor. He just fumbled the ball, and that's part of the game. We patted him on the back and said we were okay. We told him to hang in there. I think he handled himself very well. That's a big moment. He's still a young quarterback, and he was playing against a good defense."

On how the defense played after the turnover…
"I'm just so impressed with our third-down defense. We were concerned about that, but they didn't convert a third down until the fourth quarter. That's big-time."

On Jarrett Stidham's development and toughness…
"He's a tough guy. There's no doubt. He's a great competitor. He throws it just as good as anyone I've seen. He's playing with a lot of confidence and is doing a great job. I know he had a fumble, but he's been doing a great job of protecting the football."

On the Kerryon Johnson jump pass…
"We had a little bit different look with that play this time, it was a play that Chip (Lindsey) had been saving now for a few weeks and it was well executed for sure."

On being persistent in the last five games of the season…
"We had to keep the hammer down. That fourth quarter was fun. It was fun to be out there with our crowd against our rival. The interesting thing is, not only did we beat two number one teams, but both had to be our rivals."

On the team playing its best football right now…
"This time of year, very few teams are playing their best football and we are doing that. We must continue doing that moving forward. Playing Georgia, we know they are going to have a chip on their shoulder. We are playing our best football right now and we need to continue to do that."

On Auburn's offensive line on third down plays…
"There was a couple tough ones in the first quarter, we had a chance or two to make some big plays but third down when they knew we were passing, that's when the protection really stepped up. With the game on the line for a little bit there the score was close and some of those third downs turned the game around."

On the seniors…
"I am very happy for our seniors tonight. Tre' Williams comes to mind. He was such a great leader for us and the whole senior class has stepped up too."

On the importance of the rivalry games…
"These games are huge. Those are the teams we recruit against and it's not just big now but its big for the future. We are starting to get quality depth and talent here which means big things for the future of the program."

On Kevin Steele
"I know he's up for the Broyles Award and what he is doing right now with our defense, I think he deserves the award. Our defense is one of the best in the country and I am real proud of them."

Tre' Williams, Sr. LB

On dominating third downs…
"That was the big emphasis. If we got off the field and gave the offense more time for them to do their thing, then that would be a good thing and a plus for us."

On coming together after allowing the quick second-half touchdown...
"We realized that wasn't us and that wasn't our standard."

On looking forward…
"We have to prepare for this week and prepare for the SEC Championship. We're taking it one game at a time, and we just have to remain focused and take it slow."

On playing with a neck roll…
"It feels different, but I know that I'm protected. I know that I can actually play fast because that neck roll will prevent a lot of things. I had to do a lot at practice to get used it."

On the defenses' relationship with the offense…
"There are a lot of leaders over there on the offensive side of the ball. At the beginning of the season, we told them no matter what happens we have their backs, and that's the mindset that we've had all year."

Carlton Davis, Jr. DB

On game planning for Jalen Hurts…
"I think we controlled him a lot, especially on the ground game. We didn't let him beat us so we executed the game plan."

On Ryan Davis' career game…
"He worked so hard this offseason. Hats off to that guy. He's one of the best receivers that I've faced, even during a game. In practice when I'm going against him, I have to be on my A-game. And he finally got his opportunity to show what he can do."

Chandler Cox, Sr. FB

On his role with the team…
"It's not about me. It's not about what I can do with the ball. It's about making the holes for Kerryon [Johnson], protecting for Jarrett [Stidham]. That's what I love. I love making that hole for Kerryon or any of the running backs, and it's bigger than me. I'll do anything to help this team win."

On Kerryon Johnson
"It's always nice to have a guy like him on your team. You see him go and score and do his little tricky moves. I love him as a brother and as a teammate. He's incredible."

On beating Georgia and Alabama to get to the SEC Championship…
"It's amazing. Coach Malzahn told us we had to win five in a row. Week-by-week, we just had to win. Our motto this year has been "our time", and we truly believe it is our time. Tonight showed that. The whole nation was watching us tonight. Now we are playing in Atlanta next week for the SEC Championship.

On Jarrett running the ball tonight…
"I like seeing that. He looked good. It opens up the offense like crazy."

Jarrett Stidham, So. QB

On the fans today…
"This is a special day for the Auburn Tigers. It was a lot of fun to say the least. This was my first Iron Bowl, and I didn't know what to expect. Hats off to our fans. They're the rowdiest I've ever seen. It was a great atmosphere."

On exploiting Alabama down the middle…
"There was some stuff over the middle that we wanted to take advantage of and opportunities on the outside as well. We were just taking what they were giving to us. That's just how it went today."

On his mindset after the fumble…
"I was really upset with myself because regardless of where a snap is, I should always catch it. It was just a bad play on my part, but I can't let it affect me. I have to have a next-play mentality. We take it one play at a time, and I just tried to erase it from my mind after that."

On the implications of this game…
"It's obviously a really big deal to us. Any time you can beat your rival like this, it's a great thing. We have more in front of us, and we have to take care of business next week."

Ryan Davis, Jr. WR

On the difference in the team from the beginning of the year…
"We're just hungry. We put too much work in just to fall off like that and let those games slip away. We just went back to the drawing board and stayed hungry and stayed the course."

On Jarrett Stidham's growth…
"It's just experience over the course of the year. We already knew that it was going to take some time, but once he has time and is confident, I feel like he can play with anybody in the country. I have confidence in him. He's very smart and a great player."

Austin Golson, Sr. OL

On making to the SEC Championship…
"It's awesome. I couldn't have asked for more during my senior year. I get a chance to play for a SEC title and I can't wait to do it. I'm kind of speechless."

On Jarrett Stidham being a running threat…
"We saw his ability today. We're at the point in the season where we have to win every time we step on the field. Obviously, he can run the ball as he showed tonight, so I'm glad coach unleashed him."

On what this game meant for him…
"It means the world to me. I've been here for a long time and it was the first time I've gotten to beat them. We get to play next week for the SEC Championship, and it couldn't be a better Senior Night for me."

On beating two No. 1 teams in two weeks…
"It just shows you how bad our team wants it right now. We come out to practice every day. We have great leaders, great player and great coaches. Hats off to everybody I'm surrounded by. It wouldn't be the same without those guys."

On the difference Jarrett Stidham makes…
"I think the biggest thing is his leadership. Obviously, he makes a lot of plays. When you're a quarterback you need to be a great leader, and he's a fantastic one.

On the effect the crowd had on the game…
"I think we have the best crowd in college football. It affected the game several times. It was awesome and a great atmosphere to play in.

Deshaun Davis, Jr. LB

On Tre' Williams being able to play…
"That means a lot. He's been battling injuries for a lot of the season. He wants to get out there and battle with his brothers, and we tell him that we appreciate him. We don't take any of that for granted. Just to see him out there making plays, it makes us want to play harder and gives us something else to play for. We love that guy to death and appreciate him."

On winning five straight to make it to the SEC Championship…
"Our coaches made us take it one game at a time, and we didn't look past anyone. To win five in a row, you have to win the first one, then the second one and so on. That's what we did, and it's a great story. When it all comes down to it, though, no one cares if we don't get it done next week."

On rematch with Georgia…
"It's going to be much harder the second time. We know they have a bad taste in their mouth from the last time, and they're going to come out and try to be more physical than us. It's going to be a heavyweight battle."

On the game…
"That was my type of game; my type of environment. There was a lot on the line. We knew they were going to come and play smash-mouth. It's the Iron Bowl. We knew we had to come out and beat this team, and we knew the most physical team would come out on top."

Nate Craig-Myers, So. WR

On staying together after the LSU loss…
"After that game, we all stayed together. We built a stronger bond after that game. We felt we had to prove to the world we could still do something special."

On what Jarrett Stidham brings to the offense…
"He's a great leader and a competitor. That's the great thing about Jarrett. He hates to lose. Whatever it takes for his team, he's going to do."

On catching the jump pass from Kerryon and his importance to the team…
"We put it in a while back. I've just been waiting for my number to get called. It felt good. Kerryon is a great back. He can do a lot of different things with the ball in his hands.""

Jeff Holland, Jr. OLB

On tonight's big win…
"It's big. We have been working hard for this all year. From spring to fall camp, we have been working towards this moment. Coach said we had to win five in a row to get to this point and that's what we did. Our seniors and leaders always say we are going to gel together and stick together."

On pressuring Jalen Hurts…
"We watched a lot of film. We had an idea on what they wanted to do. We knew they wanted to run Jalen [Hurts], so we wanted to contain him in the pocket. Once the game started, I noticed the tackles were setting me deep. I knew if I could get to the edge I could beat them."

On getting ready to face Georgia a second-time next week…
"We just have to go back to practice and clean up the small stuff then prepare for them again."

Nick Saban Alabama Head Coach

Opening Statement...
"I think the most important thing about this game for our players to remember is all of the lessons that they can learn from the things we didn't do well in this game. I am still very proud of what this team has been able to accomplish this year, winning 11 games. I don't think we played our best game today, but give a lot of credit to Auburn. They played very well.

"I think one of the biggest differences in the game was third down. We could not get off of the field on third down, and that allowed them to extend drives and it led to several scoring opportunities for them. We didn't do a very good job on third down, so we didn't sustain drives because of that, and that affects time of possession and a lot of other things. That was probably the biggest difference in the game.

"This team has overcome a lot of adversity this year, and I am very pleased and proud of the way they performed all year long. I don't think we played our best today, and I am certainly responsible for that. I think all of us in the organization will learn from what we can do better in the future. I don't think one game defines who you are. It certainly doesn't define this team for who they are, and again I am very proud of what they were able to accomplish. I am sorry that I could not do a better job as a coach and as a leader to help them play better in this game so that they would have an opportunity to play in the SEC Championship."

On what he saw on some of those crossing routes by Auburn...
"I really don't know what crossing patters you are talking about, are you talking about us guarding them? They were in a stack, and we didn't have a rat in the hole to cut the guy because we were trying to five-man rush. Twenty-three (Ryan Davis) did a great job with his quickness getting away from us and outrunning us across the field. We changed the way we played those later in the second half and it helped a little bit. We didn't get a lot of pressure and we didn't affect the quarterback, and the ball got out of his hands quickly because of the kind of routes they ran, and we didn't do a good job of covering them."

On if he was surprised by how much Jarrett Stidham ran...
"Well we knew he was very athletic, and we respected him as a runner. It is not something they have done a lot, but we did respect his ability to scramble and extend plays. He did make a couple of really good runs. He pulled the ball, and when Hootie (Jones) got hurt, he got cut on the zone option and ran a quarterback draw for a big first down. We have a lot of respect for the guy. He is the best quarterback we have played against all year."

On the consecutive missed snaps late in the game...
"We were going with the clap, and Bo (Scarborough) said he heard someone clap. Whether it was one of their players or one of our players, I am not accusing anyone of anything. Then the second time, Bo clapped to try to get the line's attention to find out who the Mike (linebacker) was, we weren't even set on the play. I though they should have called illegal procedure on us. Two miscommunications because you're going on a silent count, we could have made a change and done a different kind of silent count and used the leg lift instead of the clap. It was very unfortunate in a crucial situation in the game where we had a chance to get back in the game."

On Jalen Hurts' performance...
"I think Jalen (Hurts) really competed in the game. He made a lot of plays in the game. He scrambled a lot with his feet. We just didn't do a good enough job in the passing game, but that is not just Jalen. We didn't have good enough protection, we didn't have guys getting open. Maybe we just needed to have better design in what we did, and he probably could have done a better job of reading some things."

On crowd noise…
"We knew the crowd noise would be what the crowd noise was. You play on the road in this league, it's always that way. You have to go in silent on offense, which is a little bit more difficult for the offensive players. We practiced it. We have played in it many times before. They had a very enthusiastic crowd, but I don't think the decibels matter after it gets so loud, you can't hear anyway. We have dealt with that several times this season."

On chances of making the playoff…
"I think this team deserves the opportunity to get into the playoff by what they have been able to accomplish and what they have been able to do. Certainly not in this game, but I think the team we played tonight is a very good football team, probably one of the best teams in the country. We have won 11 games, and not many teams have been able to do that. I really don't know what all the scenarios might be where we would have an opportunity to do it. I certainly would like to see this team get the opportunity to do it. I think they deserve it."

On running the ball early in the 2nd half…
"We came out with a little fire and a little more intensity right out of halftime and we had a great drive that got us ahead in the game but we just couldn't sustain it. We just couldn't sustain it. One of the big points of this game was, you're going to have to do a great job of executing and you are going to have to sustain it. It's going to be this kind of game. It's going to be a 60 minute game and it's going to be a street fight and a battle, that is how these games always are. You are going to have to sustain it and we were not able to sustain any consistency in how we played. Same thing on defense, really. We would play three or four plays really well, get them in 3rd-and-8 and they would get a first down. We would do it again, third down, and they would get another first down. That was pretty much the story, so we have to do a better job in those situations and we need to do a better job of being able to sustain things offensively and defensively."

On three linebackers returning to the lineup…
"They all made a contribution and I didn't see any glaring errors. I think everybody out there probably made a few mistakes, but I think it was very helpful that we had those guys back and we were glad to have them back and I'm glad to see them back."

On what Saban saw from offense on third downs…
"What did I see from them? I saw everything that I have been talking about. We were not very good. We didn't protect very well, we didn't get open very well, quarterback didn't read stuff very well, and we didn't throw the ball and catch it very well. So, that is what I saw."

On what he felt about play calling…
"Are you talking about our play calling? I was fine with our play calling. Play calling is like anything. If it works, it's a good play. If it doesn't work, it's a bad play. So the way we passed the ball, every pass that we called, other than about five or six, were bad calls because they didn't work."

Daron Payne, DL, Jr.

On how much Auburn ran Stidham…
"No, I am not surprised. I knew they were going to come out and try to run. That was just part of the game."

On if Alabama deserves to be in the playoff…
"Of course. We worked hard all offseason. Now we just have to leave it up to fate."

On if Stidham was faster than he looked on film…
"I think it was stuff we did. We messed up a bunch and we have to get that fixed."

On third down struggles…
"We should have got off the field on third down. That would have helped us out. The game probably would've ended a little different if we would have got off the field on third down."

On if it was execution where they messed up…
"Everything they did on us was because of us. Us not lining up right; us not reading our keys; us not having our gaps. It is all on us."

On if the better team won…
"No. It was just us messing up."

On the fans rushing the field…
"It comes with it. I kind of knew it was going to happen."

Minkah Fitzpatrick, Jr., DB

On expecting Stidham to run…
"We really didn't. This season he hasn't run the ball a whole lot, and I think that they did a good job of adding that."

On deserving a shot at the Playoff…
"I think we do. We are a one loss team and we lost to a really good team. They beat one of the great teams and I think that we deserve a chance to be in the playoffs."

On the mood in the locker room…
"Obviously it's sad, everybody kind of has their head down, but we have to pick each other up and be there for each other and just learn from it as a team."

On possible fatigue…
"I don't think anybody was really tired, it was just us not doing our job. I think that everybody is in good shape. There was no one with their hands on their hips, nothing like that."

Jalen Hurts, So., QB

On the uncharacteristic mistakes that occurred during the game…
"We did not execute. Usually in the games you lose, there is a lack of execution somewhere throughout the game. We learn from this and hopefully use it when we get the opportunity to touch the field again."

On the confusion during snaps…
"The center snapped the ball when he was not supposed to a few times, but it all comes down to execution, and that we did not do today. I have to take some of the blame for it. I have no problem doing it, but we are going to learn from this. We don't really lose, so it will really humble us. We will bounce back."

On the influence of the crowd noise…
"The two bad snaps in a row, that is pretty much due to the crowd. The center was not hearing things."

On deserving to be in the playoffs…
"Unfortunately or fortunately, it is not in our hands. If you win games, you are in. It didn't work out against a really good Auburn team, but we will see what happens from now."

On if they can beat any team in the country…
"I am never going into a game with the mindset of losing or a thought of losing. I hate to lose more than I love to win. We are going to learn from this and if another opportunity comes for us, we have to be ready to take it."

On the lack of success on third downs…
"Definitely a pivotal point of the game and we have to do a better job at executing. It all comes down to execution."


 

 

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