COACH KELLY: I'm just really proud of my players. I love these guys. They've competed. They've done everything we've ever asked them to do. It is a special group of young men. I said in my first game when I was the head coach one game doesn't define you as a person or as a football player. And the same thing still holds true. These guys are champions. I love them. We'll be back.
Q. Chip, what were they doing to stop y'all's running game?
COACH KELLY: You know, the matchup with our offensive line against their defensive line was really the changing point in that football game. I will give Auburn credit. They got a great front four. Nick Fairley proved he was the best defensive lineman in the country. It was a tough matchup for us.
Q. Coach, are you surprised with two such prolific offenses that the defenses were able to rule this game?
COACH KELLY: No. Going in I thought our defense had a good plan. Obviously Cam made some big plays for them. But -- and I had a lot of respect for them defensively. I was really, really impressed with their front. We knew it was going to be a test for us.
Q. What was the nature of your discussion with the referee at the beginning of the fourth quarter?
COACH KELLY: I never talk about refs. I learned that lesson this season
Q. When they took over for their last possession, any key clock-management decisions that you felt like you faced and how you approached that?
COACH KELLY: The only one at the end, I knew they were going to let the clock run and we were trying to see if they would kick it with ten seconds. But they are well coached. I thought he would let the clock run down. And the snappers, we do the same thing. Our snapper would have snapped it. We were just thinking if they stopped it, they would kick it. Just took a shot there.
Q. Jeff, I saw you kneeling along the sideline with a lot of your teammates when they were going for that field goal. You were really emotional leaving the field. What was going through you as you were processing that?
JEFF MAEHL: You know, it has just been a roller coaster ride ever since I got to Eugene. I got the greatest teammates, coaches and fans that I ever could dream of. Just a lot of emotions. Obviously as a senior, it is not the way you want to go out. But I'm excited to be able to watch these guys next year because a lot of them are coming back.
Coach Kelly, Coach Chizik called Cam the best college football player he's ever seen. What were your opinions on him now seeing him in person?
COACH KELLY: He is a great football player. I'm not into ranking guys. I wasn't there to see Sammy Baugh play, but in my career as a head coach, he's the best player I've seen.
Q. Darron, I was wondering if Darron could answer a question about the Auburn defense. Did they provide any surprises to you? Did you see what you expected from them?
DARRON THOMAS: They came out and did a good job. Like I said, we stopped ourselves on a lot of the plays, mental -- mental, just mental breakdowns on our own. They didn't really stop us a lot. We shot ourselves in the foot.
Q. LaMichael, did you -- what did you see when you were handed the ball? Was it just a block wall? Was it just hard to see any openings at all to try to run through?
LAMICHAEL JAMES: Yeah, pretty much their defensive line is really good. You know, it is really tough to get around those guys. It really was a difficult matchup. Fairley really is a great player and so is No. 17. They just have great defenders in their front four.
Q. Coach and Cliff, what happened on the key play with Dyer there late in the fourth quarter where it looked like the guy was down and then he was up?
COACH KELLY: What happened? I think Eddie had him. It seemed like he rolled over. I couldn't tell exactly where we were. They buzzed down for a replay. But obviously he was up. He did a great job to keep himself going. The whistle wasn't blowing. The kid made a play. He is a good football player.
Q. Coach, practice and preparation have been such a big point of emphasis for you. Do you feel like looking back now that the preparation was adequate?
COACH KELLY: That's a good question. I mean, I can't say yes because we lost the game. But I think sometimes you got to give credit to Auburn. I think they did a great job. I think our players understood what we were trying to get accomplished, and my hat's off to Auburn because they got some great players that made some great plays for them when they really needed to.
Q. Jeff, can you talk about the this when you guys score, you get the two-point conversion, and then that play happens and did that feel like a punch to the gut?
JEFF MAEHL: Definitely. I mean, you know, we fought all game. Offensively, we were struggling. And our defense came up with a huge play for us. And we were able to score and get the two-point. It looked like overtime was in the future.But things -- those things happen in games. We understand that. The ball just didn't go our way this time
.Q. Cliff, that second near interception, how would you describe how that play was and how big of a swing was that when they ruled it not an interception there? CLIFF HARRIS: That was big for us. You know, we came up with a stop and then, you know, the call they said was overturned. And they gave them back the ball, so, I mean, that was big for us. But at the same time, we had, you know, plenty of other chances to come up with a W. We just fell a little short.
Q. Did you feel you had the interception?
CLIFF HARRIS: Yeah, I caught the ball. That was no doubt. But it is not about what I did. It is about the ruling on the field.
Q. It seemed like they made a lot of pressure on you to make quick decisions both through the air but when you were trying to run the option as well?
DARRON THOMAS: They came up, had a good plan for us. They mixed it up a lot. Sometimes defensive end was crashing or sitting on it, but they came out with a good plan. Hats off to their defense.Like I say, we had a chance to make the plays, to come out and win the game that we didn't make.
Q. Coach Kelly, at the end of the game, you stand in the tunnel. You got some guys leaving, you got some guys coming back. Your discussions with those guys? How soon do you start talking about next year or what were you telling these guys as they were coming off?
COACH KELLY: Keep their heads up, that I love them. I watched those guys grow from last year, our first team meeting on January 8th to where they are, it has been an unbelievable journey and they should be proud of themselves.
Q. Auburn's up 19-11 and your defense makes a big play and then your offense takes it down the field, can you talk a little bit about the way your team battled back at that point in the game?
COACH KELLY: Yeah. You know, I think our team thrives off each other. It was five minutes to go in the game, and I thought our defense was doing a good job at least containing them. We were hoping they were going to come up with a big play. You watch how excited our offense is thriving off of what our defense did. Darron made a couple plays on that drive. LaMichael made a couple plays on that drive and Jeff comes up with a big catch for the two-point play. That's how this team works. They care so much about each other and they love each other is that they feed off each other.
Q. Darron, were you surprised by the low-scoring nature of this game?
DARRON THOMAS: We knew it wasn't going to be a blowout. We knew they were going to come out and make it a battle. It was a good battle. We fought to the end. I'm just happy my offense came out and battled all the way to the end.We didn't have it in our heads to finish the game. Like I say, it was a long battle. Everybody fought hard. I know everybody left everything on the field, so I'm happy with how the whole game went. We just didn't get the W.
Q. Cliff, they ran the post with the wheel combination about 50 times tonight. You intercepted one, you almost intercepted the other, and then they got three or four big plays on that exact same play in the second and third quarter. Did you expect to see that play a lot? And why were you unable to defend it later in the game?
CLIFF HARRIS: From watching film, we noticed that was their go-to play when they needed that big play. It was like a 50/50. We defended it half of the time and half of the time they completed it. So it was just a battle, you know? I hope you all enjoyed the show we put on for you guys.
Q. LaMichael, you shared a moment with Nick Fairley after the game. Can you describe just going head to head with him the whole way. And then also if you could share at all what your interaction was with him there at the end.
LAMICHAEL JAMES: I really don't want to say. It was nothing bad. It was all love. I was calling him a cheater because he kept grabbing my face mask. He really is a good guy. He was a competitor. I was up for the challenge. It was an overall battle between him and our offensive line and me. I told him no matter how hard you hit me I will always get up. I think it was one of those conversations.
Q. Darron, LaMichael specifically, it has been more than a year since you guys experienced a loss. So I guess how did it feel when you were walking off that field? It has been a long time.
LAMICHAEL JAMES: Nobody likes losing. When you are a competitor, you don't want to lose. Coach Kelly tells us we play football but it doesn't define who we are. There is going to be better days. We have next year. We are going to play plenty more football games. We are going to win plenty more. I think this is a lesson for us. Nobody likes to lose. It really hurts. I said this one is probably going to hurt for a while. I think we are going to be really determined in the off-season to get back out there next year and work harder.
Q. Chip, a lot of talked about pace this week and how quickly you play. Did you played as fast as you wanted to play?
COACH KELLY: At times. Yeah, I thought we had it ramped up pretty good, and then other times we didn't. When you get behind with a penalty or something like that it kind of puts you off track. But there were times when we had it rolling pretty good, and other times it wasn't going as fast as we should have been.
Q. If you had to simplify this into one thing, would it be fair to say that the physical dominance on the line would be the most would be the biggest thing that stood out?
COACH KELLY: No. What stood out to me is how both teams competed and put on a great show for -- I agree with Cliff. I think it was a great show. Right, Cliffy?
CLIFF HARRIS: Yes, sir.
Q. Coaches like to say games come down to just a few plays: you make them, you don't make them. Was it that simple; that you look at a few plays in the game that could have gone either way that could have swung this thing?
COACH KELLY: Yeah, when it comes down to the field goal at the last second, you can always point to a play here, a play there. But it really doesn't do much for you. We're a forward-thinking operation, and we'll learn from this thing and move forward.