Sept. 27, 2008
Tennessee Postgame Quotes
Head coach Phillip Fulmer
"It goes without saying that it was a very disappointing loss. I congratulate Auburn on their win. I think the defense played outstanding for most of the afternoon. Offensively, we were stuck. The second half, the defense gave us good field position and opportunities, especially with the punts and punt returns, and we didn't get anything out of it. To play offense, you have to execute and that is first and foremost. I don't think this team has lost its spirit at all. I think we have good leadership and its growing all the time. Adversity will challenge us and we will see where we really stand.
"It is very disappointing to get that kind of effort out of our defense and our kicking game and not get a win. Auburn has an outstanding football team and we need to do much better to win."
On Tennessee's possible quarterback changes
"It is something that we have to look at in every position on the field. Tomorrow, and as the week goes on, we will break down film. Eight-for-24 is unacceptable. We need to be sure that he [Jonathan Crompton] is finding the receivers and getting the ball to the people who make plays for us."
On his frustrations with Crompton
"I don't want to put a loss on any one particular guy. We play as a team, win as a team and lose as a team. On the same token, we have to look at everything we can do to make the team feel better when it's not. That's where I'll leave that until we get a chance to look at the tape and see."
On the goal line fumble
"Until I really see the film, I can't really answer that. From what the guys saw on TV, they said Arian [Foster] had his elbow up too high. I'll have to look at it on tape. Obviously that is a huge play in the game."
On making improvements
"We played a better defensive team than we did last week and that is not to take anything away from Florida. We played on the road [today]. We handled ourselves, in a lot of ways, better in regards to mistakes. That one mistake is enough to get you beat by a good team. We have to keep working, burn the midnight oil as coaches, and get it across to the players what needs to be done. If changes need to be made, I'm not afraid to make them."
Robert Ayers, defensive end
"We came out and gave it our all against a good Auburn team. They made their plays, we made our plays, we just could not get it done. So, now we are going to go back to practice tomorrow, and then take it from there."
On frustrating loss, defensively
"We are going to win as a team and we are going to loss as a team. The scoreboard said we lost, so, obviously we didn't play well enough. We missed a couple of tackles, but I would not say we played bad, just not good enough to win."
On Tennessee's dominating defense
"We don't feel dominate enough. They scored 14 points; they had some drives that we should have stopped. On third-down conversions, we didn't make the plays. I'd say our game is far from being dominate. There are a lot of things that we have to get better at. If we were dominate, we would have won the game. But we didn't win, therefore we have to keep working and get the confidence that we need to be a great defense. If we keep working, we will eventually get there."
Montario Hardesty, TB
On the offense's consistency
"We had good field position the whole second half. Our defense was playing great because they were getting the ball back to us. We just weren't executing. We were getting the ball back on Auburn's side of the almost every time. We couldn't score enough points at the end to win the game."
On Auburn's secondary defense
"They were bringing a lot of zero-blitz coverages on second and third downs. On third down, we got a couple of good runs and we were real close on hitting a couple of big passes. It just didn't come through. Those are plays we can defeintley make. So now we go back to practice and hit it hard. I really think we could have won this game."
On Phillip Fulmer's speech after the game
"He said it was definitely not an effort issue. We played hard all four quarters. Defense played a good game; offense had some execution problems and we didn't convert. We were getting good field position and as the game went on we started to feel like we could come back and win the game. Our leadership is good; we just have to fight on throughout the rest of the season."
Auburn Postgame Quotes
Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
"It was a good win a great win. It is hard to imagine two defenses would play like that and how we were inconsistent in a lot of ways, but we found a way to win. That's exactly what you have to do. You have to find a way to win sometime.
"In the second half defensively, I thought was about as good a effort that I have ever seen other than about two plays. Their punter kept us in a hole all night. We had no field position but we found somehow some way to get the ball out enough and give our defense room to breathe. We all know that wasn't a pretty game, but we are going to get better.
"After last week, we didn't talk about it a whole lot, but I just told the team and we didn't talk about the emotions of games, but I could tell all through the week that it was going to be like pulling teeth getting into this ball game. They laid it on the line last week but today they did the same thing. At times, we didn't have a lot, but they gave all they had. It was a win over a good team that came in.
"Their back was against the wall like ours, and I thought our defense obviously rose to the occasion and got after it. We made a tremendous amount of mistakes. As you noticed on offense, we are moving it around a little bit and making some changes. We are doing all that we can possibly do to get more rushing yards. We still didn't get 100 yards today. It is going to cost us if we don't work and get better running the ball.
"I thought Chris (Todd) played well at times throwing the football, and he struggled. He made some good decisions. The one on third and nine with the interception, he would love to have that one back. I thought Kodi (Burns) coming in at the end of the first half, he did an excellent job keeping them off balance and making some plays. That's what Kodi can do. Of course at the end of the game, the third and five pass was outstanding and gave us the win and put us over the top.
"There are a lot of good players on this team and a lot of heart. We can win a lot of games if we can continue to play like that. As we all watched that game, we have to improve and improve quite a bit in a lot of places to have a chance to continue to win.
"I am proud of them, and I am proud of the coaches. After last week, I am proud of the fans with the way they came back and supported us. We just have to go back tomorrow and get better."
On Auburn's quarterback situation being looked at next week
"I am going to look at it. Tony (Franklin) did a good job. I thought he put Kodi in at the right time at the end of the first half and gave us a shot in the arm and got the fans back into the game. It was a good move on him and a very gutsy move to put him in right there at the end. The quarterback-center exchange is very interesting when you do a lot of shotgun. There is some underneath the center and he handled it well. Again, we didn't play well enough on offense. We would like to have had some plays back, but you have to give them credit. They came in and played hard. They run well on defense and make some plays. With the quarterbacks, we will look at that tomorrow. We will probably continue to use both as we did today. I liked the Mario Fannin set. I thought that will give us some plays down the line. We are just looking for ways to move the ball down the field and keep defenses off balance."
On Auburn's offense
"The offense always concerns you but you have to look at who you are playing, too. We are playing some pretty good defenses. Those guys on the other side can play. This conference on defense is really good. We played a real good one last week. We played a good one the week before and this week, we played another good one. There are times that we just shoot ourselves in the foot. It is not what they do, it is us.
"We have to continue to worry about what we do and keep tweaking our offense trying to find things that are going to help us. About half the time out there tonight, we looked pretty good. About half the time, we struggled. Again, sometimes when your defense is playing the way they are playing, your offense just has to make a first down or two and punt the ball away. That is basically what we did tonight in the second half."
Did you swallow hard when they called pass on third down at the end of the game?
"We were all for it. We wanted them to use a time out, and we felt that a sprint out and run-pass option with Kodi was a non-factor and would run a little bit more time off the clock. If we drop it, the clock stops. If we catch it, the game is over. If we catch it and don't make it, they have to use their last time out. If we just run it, they use it. There are a lot of ifs and ands at the end. It is good to see us make a first down at the end of the game to win the game. We will grow up a little bit from that. Last week, we didn't quite do it."
On Auburn's secondary
"We played well. We played a lot tighter. We challenged them. We wanted to make the quarterback hold the ball a little bit longer. We blitzed a little bit more the second half. We would like to have the third and 15 call back when they scored a touchdown. Their quarterback scrambled up the middle and we weren't quite as aggressive. We gave them a lane to run the ball up the middle. Our defensive backs are getting better. (Zac) Etheridge played with a hurt shoulder for most of the game. He didn't practice most of the week. Tray Blackmon didn't play. He has a cracked wrist. We just felt like holding him out this week would be best. Josh Bynes played outstanding and guys stepped up.
"Spencer Pybus played excellent. He played a lot of plays. We had a lot of guys step up. Again, you can win a lot of games on defense, but we can't keep missing field goals. That almost cost us tonight missing that field goal. We will go back and re-evaluate that. We are going to put pressure on our kickers, and we will kick another one next week if we continue to miss these field goals. There is no call for it. We almost got beat because of it."
On Brad Lester
"We just didn't play him. He was ready to go. He was a little bit sore. He should be ready to go next week. That is one reason, we put the running formation in for Mario (Fannin) to get the ball to him to take the pressure off Ben (Tate) and give him a little rest. It worked pretty good at times so we will probably keep it and continue to run it."
On Wes Byrum's struggles
"It is just technique. He knows it. He has worked on it. Last year, he got in a little bit of the same slump. That's three or four that he has missed this year. In this league, every point counts. We go in 17-6 at halftime with that field goal and everybody's feeling a lot better. We have a little bit more comfortable lead. When you are called upon, you need to make it. He is in a slump, but he is going to get out of that slump. We are going to get that corrected."
On Auburn's punting
"The punting was much better. We got a lot more hang time. We made a terrible mistake. One of our young guys (Neiko Thorpe) running down the field thought he called a fair catch and ran by him. Unless you see it, you have to break down in front of him and we gave him a free shot. That was a freebie. You learn. We are playing a lot of young guys on our punt coverage team. We are playing six or seven who are playing for the first time. It is a good lesson learned especially when you win."
Was it exciting to win?
"That is a team that can beat anybody. They have a good enough team that can play. We knew we were going to get their best shot. The way we won it probably is going to help. We would have loved to have been able to score a few more points. It just goes to show you that you keep playing and working at it and the offense didn't do a lot in the second half, but they did make that big first down at the end that we were able to run some time off the clock. That was obviously a defensive game. We have to be able to score more points on offense."
On Auburn's defense holding Tennessee when they were a pass completion away from field goal range on three straight possessions:
"Paul (Rhoads) changed his thoughts. We tightened them up. We were going to take out the short routes you know the slant they threw one time early in the game they caught for about 15 yards. When you get in a situation like that, 30 yards is going to be the difference in the game with an opportunity to kick a field goal. You have to make them throw it deep. They came back and threw two deep down the field. We played it real well. Jerraud Powers played another excellent game. They tried to run a stop and go on him, and he just continues to amaze me how football smart he plays in terms of understanding down and distance and being able to read routes, formations and quarterbacks."
Kodi Burns, QB
Thoughts on getting back into action
"Going in, it was really exciting. It was a lot of fun to be able to try to make plays for my team mates. I came out a little rusty. My footwork was a little off, but I'll work on that at practice every day and get better."
Thoughts on offensive performance
"Overall, we did OK. The biggest thing is that we won. If you do enough to win, you have to hold your head up even if we didn't play up to par like we would've liked, but we won."
On improvements needed for next week
"The false starts and the penalties are what killed us. We can't put ourselves in those situations when we have first down and 10 and end up with first down and 20. We have to eliminate penalties and work on the little things to get better."
Mario Fannin, RB
Thoughts on playing quarterback
"It was pretty fun. It is something that I did in high school, going back there and reading blocks. It was fun."
Thoughts on Auburn's team performance
"We did OK. We have some things that we need to work on. That's something that the coaches will help us on. We'll go back and review the game to get better."
Thoughts on being a versatile player
"That's something that the coaches like to see. To be a team player is what I strive to be and it's great to be able to help the team in any way that I can. That's the type of guy that I am. I love getting out there and getting after it to help the team in any way possible."
Robert Dunn, WR
On first quarter touchdown drive
"My play was a corner route and Chris (Todd) recognized the cover-two defense and (Todd) gave me a post route. I had man coverage and the safety was playing 10 yards off. That's money all day. It was pretty easy to make the adjustment. We worked at practice every day and the scouts gave us great looks, so when we saw the coverage, it was natural to make the adjustment."
Thoughts on today's overall game
"We're still getting better. We've got a long way to go, still. We have to work out a couple of kinks as far as the third-and-short conversions and we have to get more of those. We have to stop getting penalties and shooting ourselves in the foot. We have a lot of great drives going, but we don't score because of the penalties. We have to work on our mental toughness in the game."
Thoughts on Tennessee's defense
"They were playing their defense that they normally play. We watched film on them and they didn't change a thing. They didn't give us any looks that we hadn't seen all season. They've got a great bunch of guys over there on defense."
Chris Todd, QB
On first quarter touchdown drive
"I was trying to put the ball where I needed to and everybody stepped up. When we got down there, we tried for the end zone while the safeties were giving us some space. I threw the post and (Dunn) jumped outside and I had to get the ball to him. He ran a good route and got open. It was a good drive and we moved the ball well."
On offensive performance tonight
"We did enough to win, even though we didn't get as much as we would've liked. I thought we started off pretty well and started to slow down in the second half, but I'll go back and watch the film and we'll work to improve."
Josh Bynes, LB
On performance of Auburn defense
"We just came out and played hard defense regardless of what the situation was. We just wanted to keep the ball out of the end zone. I had to come out and stay poised, stay in communication with the other ten guys on the field. No matter what happened, I just wanted to stay focused and be in on every play."
On direct snaps to Tennessee WR Gerald Jones
"I don't know what to say, we played raw "D" tonight. I'm just happy to get the victory."
Antonio Coleman, DE
On SEC victory after last week's loss to LSU
"We've got a better taste in our mouths than we had after last week. The main focus of the last week of practice was to come out, line up right and play fast."
On defensive endurance
"As long as we've got Coach Yoxall running us every day and working us out, that will never be a problem."
On the week leading up to today's game
"It's a challenge, week-in and week-out. The big challenge was that we were down on ourselves after the loss to LSU. We came out Tuesday with a positive edge. The good thing about it is that you come out and play another SEC powerhouse at your house."
Jake Ricks, DT
On fumble recovery for touchdown
"There was a timeout before the play. Coach Tuberville told us that we had to stop the run and fortunately they turned over the ball. It was just like one of our drills from practice, except that this time, it ended up as a touchdown."
On holding Tennessee to 191 total offensive yards
"As a defense, we work on stopping the run. We feel like giving up 127 yards on the ground is too many. Our theory is stopping the run and containing the pass. We did well on the pass, but we still have some work to do on our run defense."
On tonight's victory following last week's loss to LSU
"We had that bad taste in our mouths all week and we had to come back with a win tonight. It was especially big coming against an SEC team to keep us in the race."