Quoting Auburn Coach Gene Chizik: ULM Week

Comments from Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik from his Tuesday press conference are featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Comments from Auburn football coach Gene Chizik's weekly press conference are featured as the Tigers prepare for Saturday' game vs. Louisiana-Monroe.

Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

"We're looking forward to another great challenge this weekend. It's going to be an early game, the first early game we've played at 11. We expect our fans to be out there and be loud and come support our team. We have to get better as a football team. That will be our focus this week and really worrying a lot about ourselves and the things that we're not very good at right now. There's plenty to work on. We'll go back to work today on a full-padded day and try to get better as a football team."

On dealing with rising expectations for the team

"Nobody's expectations are really greater than our own, first of all. I say that to the players all the time. If anybody's expectations are greater than each one of our players then we've got a problem.

"I really believe that every week it's never about the opponent necessarily. It's really always about Auburn. Our message to our team is that we have to focus on getting Auburn better. ‘What were you not good at on Saturday night individually and what were we not good at as a team?' That's what we've got to work on every day to get fixed. All the other stuff is not really on our radar. I know people are going to hear it and all that stuff, but we have so much room to improve on our team. It's very evident to our players as well. We just have to go back to work."

On having room to improve on a 4-0 mark

"It's a good feeling, obviously, to be 4-0. It certainly beats the alternative, but as we talked to our team Sunday we still haven't put together a game that we can really be proud of top to bottom. We put together some quarters that look like that's the way Auburn football ought to look. But to say that we've put together a complete game that looks that way yet, I don't think we have. I think it's very evident to all of our players and coaches. Again, we're trying to strive for that top to bottom, four-quarter game and we haven't arrived there yet."

On improving in every game

"I think we're better each game at certain things and then something else pops up that is glaring that we're not very good at. It again goes back to the consistency message that I've been saying since day one. It's discipline issues and it's on-the-field discipline issues in doing your job. It's really simple to me. Everybody has a job to do and this is where it starts and this is what you're looking at and this is how you're getting there. If you're not getting that done, there's a break-down somewhere in there with what they're seeing or how they're reacting or where they're supposed to be. Those are all things that to me are very fixable and we're making some progress in some areas but we haven't fixed all the problems yet."

On being frustrated about still fixing problems going into the fifth game

"I don't know that I would use the word frustrating. We know that, again, we have to go back to work today and try to get better at certain things all over our team. One thing that, as I've said before, I'm proud of our team because they're playing hard and I know that they'll try to respond. That's all good because that's going to have to happen a bunch more this year. But the little things and the details in the things that we're doing is what needs to be fixed."

On scouting ULM

"They're a really good football team. They opened the year with Arkansas and really played Arkansas well. They've got kind of a spread offense where they're moving the ball everywhere, a lot of quarterback runs, a lot of empty and putting the backs back into the backfield. They'll really spread you out and give you some things to work on. I think offensively, they've been impressive with some of the things they do.

"Defensively, it can get quite challenging because of the way they do their fronts with a three-down front and they're moving everywhere and different blitzes from all directions which can be very challenging as well. Again, it's going to be a tough battle, but it won't be about Louisiana-Monroe. It's going to be about Auburn and it's going to be about what we do between now and game-time to be better than we were on Saturday."

On forcing turnovers

"Turnovers are kind of an enigma to me. You've got turnovers that are really forced, meaning somebody on defense made a great play. Then you've got turnovers that the offense really just kind of put it in your lap and there it was.

"As I've said before, I don't really know why, but sometimes they come in bunches and sometimes they don't come for a long time. We were lucky Saturday night that defensively, I felt like we forced some turnovers. I felt like they were turnovers that came off of big hits and turnovers that were made. They weren't just interceptions that were thrown right to our guys; somebody had to strain their body to get to these interceptions. I think we all know the effect they have on the team and the crowd and the momentum of the game and all those things. I don't think there's any question about that.

"We have to continue to get them and we have to do something right now to protect the football better. We put the ball on the ground three times Saturday, lost two of them, and that's unacceptable. We can't win if we do that and we're not good enough to win and do that."

On improving on slow first-half play

"Again, I think it goes back to the details of playing every snap and being better at our trade, being better at what we do. We've made some good halftime adjustments, kind of adjusted some things, but we haven't played well or at least near as well as we would like to play in the first half of ball games as a team.

"As a whole team, sometimes the offense is moving a little better and the defense is not stopping them, or sometimes the offense isn't moving and the defense is stopping them. There's some give and take in there where you'd like the defense to be right on point and the offense is moving the ball. We can get some first downs and score some points, and I said earlier, I just don't think we've done that for four quarters. We're just very sporadic in that right now, and again, that's what we'll go back to work on today."

On how Cam Newton is dealing with the recent attention and spotlight

"I would think that Cameron is going to handle it very well, because I think he understands the importance of winning games versus we're not into the mentality of ‘look at me' and he's been great about that. I don't think that will change in any way, shape, or form. This is about a team coming together and getting an identity and becoming a team and winning games.

"I think ultimately for our whole team, that if that continues to happen, then everybody gets considered for awards. I don't think it's been a distraction for him and I don't think it's going to be a distraction for our team. It's something that I just feel like he's very grounded when it comes to that. It's about our team and it's about continuing to win, and people are going to talk and have ideas about all the awards. That's going to be out there. We can't control that. We've just got to control day-in and day-out what we can control, and that's trying to get better."

On the possibility of resting Newton on Saturday and playing Barrett Trotter

"We'll play that by ear. We're certainly expecting a tough game. We expect every game to go down to the end. That's what's happened the last three weeks, so if it does get to that point we'll obviously have a plan for it. But we're expecting this to be a battle down to the end."

On Philip Lutzenkirchen's performance against South Carolina

"The great thing about Philip is he's a dual guy. That's the thing he brings to the table. When he's in the game he can be our fullback spot and he can also be a hand-on-the-ground tight end. He's becoming a more physical presence when he puts his hand down on the ground as a tight end, which we need. He's a great receiver, he's got great hands. That's what he did in high school. He's really becoming very comfortable with both of those roles, and I think he's just becoming a more confident football player as we move forward. He's going to be part of the offense, and we're going to try to build him in every week and try to expand his role some."

On having a good feel for the team

"Well I would like to think that if we started putting four quarters together we would see a much improved team out there, there's no question. In this league, with our schedule, we prepare for every game to come down to the end, in every way.

"Clock management, getting first downs, stopping them on third downs, stopping them on fourth downs, we talk about it all the time and work on it all the time because we have to think that in this league, as tough as it is, that each game is going to come down to the end. But I feel that if we become a better football team for four quarters we'll have a chance to win some more games. But you asked if I have an idea of who our team is, and we're getting a better idea as we go. That's the only way you can find an identity for your team when they go through these situations that they encounter on game-day, and we've had pretty much every situation you can get. So in that regard I feel really good because I know our football team is going to fight, and I know they're all-in to the end.

"As a head football coach, that's what you want to know. You want to know that when it's not going well, what do you have on your hands? I think we've kind of gotten over that hump in terms of knowing that now we have to do the things required of us to become a good football team all four quarters, and that is where all the work is going to come in this week."

On the line being more physical

"After looking at the film, I felt like they responded. I think that they responded to what we asked them to do. I think our group of guys have a lot of pride, they have a lot about themselves, and there's a lot to our guys.

"When you challenge them I think they try to respond, and going back and looking at both sides of the line of scrimmage, it was a more physical game from our perspective than it was the week before. But as I told them and I'm going to tell them again today, that has to become a way of life. We can't talk you into that, that's just who you have to be all year long. I just didn't feel that that's where we were headed. That's a personal thing for those guys. They need to take it personal because I challenge them personally, we challenge them personally, but that's how they need to think every week. Again, that has to become a way of life. That's not a one-time thing, hopefully. But yes, they responded."

On the interior defensive linemen

"I think our three inside guys are really playing, and don't forget about Jeffery Whitaker, who's getting some snaps in there, and Kenneth Carter, our young guys. We talk to them all the time about trying to play on the other side of the line of scrimmage and disruption is the key with those inside guys. Zach Clayton is kind of an unsung hero. You've had Nick (Fairley), who's been (SEC Defensive) Player of the Week, and now Mike (Blanc) (SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week), but Zach is playing really good football right now. I'm really proud of Mike with how far he's progressed.

I think Coach (Tracy) Rocker's done a great job with those guys, and getting them to understand the importance of playing in the other people's backfield. We need to continue to improve there as well. I think we have a chance up front to be a good defensive line. We're headed in that direction, but we're not there yet."

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