Coaches' Quotes

Each week the Southeastern Conference hosts a teleconference for SEC coaches to answer questions from sportswriters. Here are highlights of today's comments as provided by the conference.

Alabama Coach Mike Shula:

"They (Mississippi State) are averaging 33 points a game offensively over the last three games. They are very good defensively. They've given up some big plays, but they are working on a short field in a lot of those situations. They are very physical and they make big plays. They are very athletic and their front seven are the strength of their defense. Their defense has seven or eight returning starters from last year. It's always a very physical game between us and Mississippi State. Their defense always does a good job versus our offense. Now they have some receivers who are making some big plays and a quarterback in Michael Henig who is much, much better than he was last year when we saw him."

Mississippi State Coach Sylvester Croom:

On Alabama and emotions...

"Alabama is a typical Alabama team. They've lost some close games, but they've won some close games as well. The names and the faces may change, but the jerseys are the same. The traditions are still there. The expectations are still there. And that's what your playing against as much as anything. I try to keep my emotions out of it. I'm not playing in the game."

On rushing numbers being down around the league...

"I look around our conference and I don't think we have the runners. (Kenny) Irons - the kid at Auburn - is a top back, but you look just a few years ago and they had Cadillac and Ronnie Brown - two great backs. It's a cycle. The league is throwing the ball more this year, but there'll be balance (in years to come)."

Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer:

"I think it will be very difficult versus their defense to score a lot of points. If you look at the defense and special teams in this game, there is a chance for both teams to make a big play and have a chance to be a difference in the game. They are not the No. 1 defensive team in the nation at this point of the season by accident. They are a very good and talented football team."

LSU Coach Les Miles:

On Tennessee QB Erik Ainge this year compared to last year....

"I think he playing more confident. He has good mobility. They move the pocket and that seems to help him. It appears that he's playing much better. Coach Cutcliffe's experience is obviously helping him, as well as the entire Tennessee offense."

On LSU QB JaMarcus Russell playing a complete game...

"I don't know many players who take snaps at quarterback who play a perfect game. I would say that the criticism of JaMarcus is not legitimate. His play in both the Florida and Auburn games did nothing but give us the opportunity to win.

"He looks to play better each time out. He plays big in games that we need him to. He's played big in every game this year. In the Florida, game he was on the money, he threw the ball extremely well."

On teams running the football....

"I think defenses have caught up with offense's desire to run the football. By scheme, I think defenses take the run away a little more regularly by outnumbering the offense. I think we have some great defenses in this league. Week after week you line up against some very good defenses in this league and that has a lot to do with it."

On the secret to finishing the season with a good November...

"I think it's different every year. Those teams that have the character and the want, they see games in November as an opportunity to gain a great deal."

Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville:

On this week's game and November:

"We're going into this week with our last non-conference game against Arkansas State. We're in pretty good shape physically. We've had one good practice yesterday and we're looking forward to having another one today. We're starting to get some guys back who have been out three to six weeks. We're going to need it for the month of November. We'll get back to a conference schedule in the last two games. There are a lot of important conference games coming up, and we can't control those except for the ones we play. We're trying to get ready mentally, as well as physically, for the month of November."

On playing in Neyland Stadium and what makes it unique *

"Just the look of it is kind of intimidating because of the size. It's on top of you and not spread out. It traps the crowd noise in and it's very loud. It's a tribute to their fans, too, because they really get into it and they know they have an atmosphere they can create to make it very difficult for the visiting team."

On running backs' rushing yards being down in the SEC this season *

"Just looking at the defenses, I think they are better this year than they've been. They've had the opportunity to play against a more inexperienced group of quarterbacks this year. We've got a lot more freshmen and young guys who haven't played. The rushing yardage, I know ours is down because we've tried to rush the ball but we've held our running backs, some of our starters, out because of injury. The one consistent team the last couple years has been Arkansas. That's their forte. That's what they do. But there are a lot of teams in the league who don't want to run the football. They want to throw. That's what they do and that's their philosophy."

Florida Coach Urban Meyer:

On correcting turnovers:

"As a coaching staff, we've had more turnovers this season than I've ever had. We place a premium on this issue. If you have a tailback that is not holding the ball right, then you put him through gauntlet drills and ropes - there's a multitude of exercises to help correct the issue. If it's a quarterback turnover, then you have to look at the play calls where the turnovers are being created. If it's a protection issue and we're not protecting the quarterback, then you need to look at the pass offenses and see if you're more comfortable running something else. You have to adapt as a coaching staff to find ways to eliminate turnovers."

South Carolina Coach Steve Spurrier:

On Arkansas' running game:

Last year McFadden gained 184 yards against us and I know that because that is what we matched in offense. We need to slow him down some this year. Felix Jones is an excellent runner too. They have two good backs there.

For us to beat Arkansas, we have to have good things happen to us. They are a good team and probably have a legitimate gripe to being in the top 10, especially after they beat Auburn. They are a good team.

On Arkansas' defense:

They have good players and are well coached. They have a system with very few mistakes and they cover very well. Reggie Herring has a proven track record.

Georgia Coach Mark Richt:

(On Vanderbilt's success this year) "It starts with coaching and Coach Johnson's leadership. That's where recruitment comes from. They continue to bring in the athletes that can compete at the highest level in this league. Vanderbilt has not been winning strictly because of Jay Cutler, but also because of the people playing well around him. They play good, sound defense and run and hit as well as anyone.

(On UK's Andre' Woodson) "Like any quarterback, when they first get in there they want to make big plays that shouldn't be made. He has become an outstanding decision maker. He's more confident in what he's doing. Anyone with an 18-5 TD to interception ratio is having a whale of a year.

(On SEC one-loss teams ranking ahead of undefeated Big East teams) "It's going to be up to the pollsters. I have a vote, too. The Big East has three strong teams right now that are playing well. It would be tough not to vote an undefeated team ahead of a one-loss team. There are certainly conferences where you may not do that, but we got first-hand knowledge of West Virginia in the bowl game (last year) and were impressed with them.

(On lack of individual rushing totals this year in the SEC) "I think everyone across the league is running less plays, so if you run less plays you'll have fewer yards. Other than that we all have good defenses and it's difficult to run against them.

(On winning in November) "Staying healthy is a big part of it. I think having momentum is very important, too. If you're healthy and have good morale you can continue to do the things that make you better. But health has a lot to do with it.

(On Georgia's approach this month) "All we're doing right now is continuing to work and get win number seven. All we can concentrate on right now is the opponent we have. We have to try to regain some momentum to finish out this season."

Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson:

"We are getting better players and have taken some chances on some tall, fast players and tried to develop them. When we first got here, we were recruiting guys that nobody else in the league was recruiting. Now that we have shown we can win and compete, we are starting to get better players. We have a great recruiting tool. Not only can you come and play in the SEC, but you can also get one of the best educations in the country. As we win more games, we'll have a better chance to get even better players."

Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt:

(On where you are compared to where you expected to be at this point)

"I thought we would be much, much improved. With the offensive line coming back and the defense a year older, guys like Marcus Monk, Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, I thought we would have a good team. But again this conference is so tough, so you can't circle any games. To say we are going to be sitting here on top of the conference in the Western Division at this time going into November, you don't ever know. That was our goal, but you don't ever know. We knew we were going to have a good football team."

(On how Darren McFadden has evolved as a running back this year and how physical of runner he is this year)

"He was pretty physical as a freshman. Not many freshmen could've done what he did with gaining 1,000 yards in this conference and stay healthy. He is one more year wiser and stronger. I think he is just a little bit better in every area. He is just an outstanding tailback that is doing a great job for us."

(On getting Darren McFadden more involved by putting him at quarterback and moving him around)

"(Arkansas running backs coach) Danny (Nutt) had that in mind last spring. (Arkansas offensive coordinator) Gus (Malzahn) liked it. When we didn't know we were going to have Darren the first game, we worked Peyton Hillis there a little bit. It is just a little wrinkle. You try to do some of the same things in different formations. If you have a back there with skills and speed, it does present a problem."

(On what is the secret to having a good November)

"I think the major thing when you hit this point is your health. You want to be as healthy as possible with your weapons and difference makers that don't get hurt. You want to keep them on the field. I think a lot of it is confidence. If you are winning and going good that last turn, guys look up and know there is four games left and it is coming to an end. Depending on how you did in September and October it has a lot of effect on how you play. I believe that. I think it is a lot of those things that make up the recipe to be successful in November."

Ole Miss Coach Ed Orgeron:

"Obviously we were very pleased with the effort for most of the game against Auburn. After watching the film, there were just a couple of plays that we didn't make and we fell short at the end of the game. Our guys competed for 60 minutes. We aim to improve this week. We've had a very spirited week of practice. We are getting a lot of guys back healthy. We are getting ready to play Northwestern State. We know a lot about their history of sending guys to the NFL. Obviously being a 1-AA team, they don't have a lot of good athletes, but they have some athletes who will be NFL players. We have to come out ready to play and work on the things we need to do to get better."

Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks:

On quarterback Andre' Woodson ...

"Andre' has matured a great deal over the last year. He's had not as many fumbles and negative plays (as last season) and many more positive plays. He's always had a strong, accurate arm and throws what the receivers will tell you is a 'catchable' ball. He's learned better techniques, holding the ball higher, getting it out quicker."

On Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford ...

"Obviously, he's getting an opportunity to get in the mix as a 'grayshirt' freshman. He's a very talented guy, (throws) accurate, with tremendous velocity. He also looks like a good and willing runner."

On if he's seen any differences in the Georgia defense ...

"They look very similar to me. Their defensive personnel looks as good as it's been. They showed that against Florida. Georgia probably had the best game against Chris Leak as anybody I've seen."

On Alfonso Smith's emergence in the Mississippi State game ...

"His speed proved to be beneficial in getting to the corner, but it was the way he ended plays, turning upfield, lowering his shoulders and battling for the extra yard (that was impressive). We knew he's always had the speed, it was just a question of how physical a runner he would be."


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