Gene Chizik Previews The Samford Game
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM
AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

AUBURNTIGERSDOTCOM

Nov. 15, 2011

Samford Press Conference - November 15, 2011

Head Coach Gene Chizik

Opening statement...
"We're excited about the opportunity to get back out and play again. We have a great opportunity this weekend to win our seventh game. Obviously last week's performance was unacceptable to everybody; our fans, our players, our coaches, everybody. We're moving forward. We had a great practice Sunday to start the week off. Again, we're excited about another opportunity. That's a great thing about football. Most weeks, you go on to the next week and have a chance to go out there and play again. We're going to embrace this chance to again win our seventh game of the year. We'll have a good practice this week and we're going to respond well and go out and play really good on Saturday."

On moving on from the loss to Georgia...
"I think anytime that's what you put on the field then it hurts, and it should, and if it doesn't then there's a problem with that. Talking to a lot of our players, I think they're all excited about the opportunity to go out and get another chance to play this Saturday. We'll have a good week of practice, and they'll respond well. We'll move on and try to get better as a football team this week."

On Samford head coach and former Auburn quarterback, Pat Sullivan being honored before the game on Saturday...
"Obviously everybody knows what a phenomenal football player he was here and what he did for Auburn University. Let me go on the record for saying what a phenomenal man he is. He is a great Auburn man. What he did for this university and what he means to the fans, what he means to this university, I'm thrilled for him to be celebrated in this way. It's (Samford's) last game of the season, and he's playing it here at his alma mater. I'm just excited for him because there's nobody that deserves it more. It'll be a great day for him and his family. I know a lot of his teammates, a lot of those former guys will be coming back. It will be a great celebration for them. It doesn't get any better than that. It couldn't happen to a better guy."

 

 

On Samford offensive coordinator and former Auburn graduate assistant, Rhett Lashlee, returning to Auburn for the game...
"Rhett's an extremely bright young football coach, and he's doing a great job as the offensive coordinator. They're averaging about 400 yards per game. They're really doing well. I think it was a great hire by Coach Sullivan. I think Rhett is a future star in this business. Just getting a chance and an opportunity to go to a place like Samford, which is kind of like the SEC of their level. It's kind of neat that he's able to go there and run the offense and give them a chance to succeed. They've played some really good football this year. I'm proud for Rhett, I'm glad for him. He's doing a great job just like I thought he would."

How do you know Coach Sullivan?
"Just in the coaching ranks over the years and just different acquaintances that we've had in terms of similar people that we know. Paths crossing at different times over the years. I've just known him for a long time, and he's one of the good guys in college coaching that isn't just a former great player and a great coach, but just one of the good guys that you always root for in college football because he's a great individual. He's a great person."

On replacing defensive back T'Sharvan Bell...
"Well we have so many young guys that have played already. We'll rotate those guys in there. Jermaine Whitehead is playing a ton of football. Robenson Therezie has played a lot of football, not quite as much as Jermaine. You have Jonathon Mincy who has really played a lot. Chris Davis has played a lot. Those guys will all step up to the plate, and they have to. It's a shame. T-Bell was playing good, but we have a lot of guys to step up and choose from. They just have to step up and take their game to the next level."

On when Bell will have surgery on his knee...
"It's going to happen later this week. We're preparing for that. It's going to happen later this week."

On if he is going into the week with a specific player in mind to replace Bell...
"We'll let them battle it out during the week and see who really has the best week of practice. That's the great thing about having several guys is the competition comes out of it. We'll evaluate it as the week goes, and we'll make that decision closer to game time."

On if both defensive back spots are open...
"No, I mean just those are the guys that we have to choose from. You have to remember now sometimes you're looking at two corners in the game, sometimes three and sometimes four. All those guys are in the mix."

On common denominators in the losses on the road...
"I think one of the common denominators is when something negative has happened, usually a turnover of some sort or a big play verses the defense, we've had a hard time coming out of that. It's been kind of a tail spin that's been hard for us to get out of. It's happened on both sides of the ball. There's not one side of the ball where it's been an issue. If you look at both sides of the ball, the common denominator offensively is usually turnovers. The common denominator defensively is usually explosive plays versus the defense, and I think both of those things on the road against a really good team, you have to be able to come out of those tail spins, and we haven't been able to do that.

On if it's easier to avoid those mistakes when playing at home...
"I think it's obviously easier playing at home in some regards just overall simply because of the momentum gained from our fan base, which is what I say all the time. So as the overall big picture, yes I think it's easier to play at home, and again playing in our stadium and the momentum that we get from the crowd when we do something good. I think that always motivates our team, but you know you have to play good on the road too. That can't be our crutch."

On Michael Dyer and why he hasn't been mentioned as much with the other great tailbacks...
"I think we've struggled some offensively. I think that's evident. We've struggled enough offensively right now where it's very sporadic. Some games it's 150 yards, some games it's 80. We've played well at times, obviously. Then there's times where we've played poorly. So it's not a consistent rushing for 100 plus yards every week. I think that's one thing, but to use the words `quietly rushed for 1000 yards,' I would say that's accurate, but again he's rushed for 1,000 yards, and that's a big deal. For us to be able to have tailbacks that can rush for 1,000 yards every year, that's big. We'll continue to run the football, there's no question about it. He's played very well at times, and again it all goes back to the offensive line and what we can do, and how many creases we can give him in there. Some weeks we can give him some creases that he can hit, some weeks we haven't been able to, and some weeks we haven't been able to run him as much as we want simply because of what the defense is giving us. So I think all of that together, that's why it's a quiet 1,000 yards."

On head coaching jobs opening up and being prepared for vacancies in the staff...
"No question about it. I think I have to be prepared at all times with anybody on my staff that may have opportunities at other places. That's what you have to do as the head coach; you always have to be a step ahead with the possibilities out there."

On having coaches in mind in case of an opening...
"Always in my mind I have several guys that you'd have in the back of your mind. You do that kind of thing in the off season, and you prepare and advance for who those guys might be. We don't spend a lot of time thinking about that during the season, but certainly during the off season and things of that nature that you always have a plan."

On potentially losing a coach before the bowl game...
"I think that ties along with it. You always have to have a plan and be a step ahead."

On the message sent to Demetruce McNeal in not starting him last Saturday against Georgia...
"The message was twofold. No. 1, Demetruce is a very talented young man, and the message was simply, `You have to play better, and if you don't play better, it doesn't matter who you are, the next guy will come in take your spot, and we don't have any problem with that.' Demetruce played much better this past week. The other thing, when that happens right now, I want to see how they respond to it. He practiced hard, he worked hard. Really the message isn't anything other than, `We're going to play who we think is playing the best right now,' and at that point in time, that's what we thought."

On Erique Florence...
"He's doing better. Erique is coming along. I think he is playing, as far as the number of snaps, about where we thought he would be this time of the year. He's played more in some games than others, but I think he's really coming along. He's going to be a really good player here."

On watching film of the Georgia game and whether or not he just moves on from a game like that...
"No, absolutely not. You have to address the issues. You have to point out to your team where we were not good and explain why was that. You can't just move on. Once you're done segmenting every part of the film with the offense, defense and special teams that points out why something was or was not successful collectively, when you are done with that, then you move on. We spent a lot of time with that Sunday, and then we went out Sunday night and worked on the corrections that we thought we needed to start with at the beginning of the week, which is Sunday, to get those problems addressed, but we always point those out. We don't ever move on to the next thing until that's done."

On concentrating on Auburn during practice this week...
"Without question, that is going to be a point of emphasis, but our team is going to know today when they come into these meetings, they are going to know where we're at. We addressed it Sunday. So, no question, that will be the point of emphasis that this week is going to be about working on Auburn and about getting better at what we do, so we will definitely emphasize the point, but they know that's where we're going."

On playing young players on the offensive and defensive lines...
"It's a tough league. That's what all our guys signed up for, and there's no substitute for experience, and we all know that. As I told our players Sunday, the younger guys like the Gabe Wrights of the world, this journey that they are on for four years, they're going to be able to look back and tell the story. They're going to be able to tell the story of the great wins they had their freshman year against the South Carolinas and the Floridas of the world, and they are going to be able to tell the story of the very disappointing losses that we suffered as well. It's a tale of two stories, so they are going to be able to tell them both. You have to live through those experiences. As we know, there is no substitute for it, and those young guys right now are getting a ton of experience, and the reality of it is that we're playing a lot of guys that it's going to be really good for them down the road in the future, and they're playing, if not the toughest schedule in the country, one of the toughest. Every week that's what you are going to get. That's what you get in this league, so they have to line up and play, no excuses, no anything. They have to line up and play, and so the experience they are getting right now is invaluable for where they want to be down the road, all the young guys I'm referring to."

On what he hopes Auburn gets out of the Samford game...
"I want to win our seventh football game. That's what I want to do. I want to win our seventh football game, I want to play much better than we did last week, doesn't matter who the opponent is, and I want to get an opportunity to get back out on the football field again and play, and I think our team feels the exact same way. We have one goal in this room united, and that is that we are going to go out and work really hard to get our seventh win."

On the importance of having leadership on the team when things do not go well, especially on the road...
"I think that is a great point because I think that is a huge piece of the puzzle. Part of the victories that we had last year when things didn't seemingly look like they were going very well, you had a lot of guys who had been through a lot of peaks and valleys during their careers. When you have guys who are experienced with going through the peaks and valleys, that means you have experience with guys who have been in the valley, and they know how to get back up to the peak. I don't think (there is) any question leadership is a huge element when you come to these types of games that we are going to see, and we are going to get in more of. We need more leadership, I don't think there's any question about that, but leadership starts with me and our coaches, and so we all have to do a better job with that."