"I want to start out with a non-football related situation. It is a very heavy heart for myself and a lot of our players and a lot of our coaches right now. The young man, who was a student assistant (coach) with us, in football passed away shortly before the game unexpectedly, and it is very tragic. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family.
"(His name is) Joe Bagwell (23 years old from Huntsville, Ala., first year as a student coach and was a student trainer last year), and that was tough.
"I want to say thank you to all of our fans tonight because they were all in, and they came and they showed up, and they did their job, and they were outstanding. That is what makes Auburn great. The football part of it, it's very disappointing. We played against our second Top 10 team and had chances to win the game, but we didn't finish, and it is disappointing, but our goal every week is to improve. I saw a lot of improvement out of our football team tonight in a lot of different ways.
"Give LSU a lot of credit. They are an extremely talented and extremely physical football team, and they are very good. So, it was a hard-fought battle, and we didn't come out on the right end of that. That is very disappointing to me, and everybody in the locker room. We worked hard in preparation for the game, and I couldn't be more proud of the players for the preparation that they put into the game.
"We went into the game fully expecting to win, and it didn't happen. We are going to go back to work and try to continue to stay on track for improvement, and we have this week off which we are going to be able to rest up a little bit. Again, try to get a lot of corrections made based on what we saw again tonight, go back to work this week. I'm very proud of the kids in the locker room, and they played very, very hard tonight. They put it out there, and they were All In, too. So, that is where we are."
On how big a step do you think Auburn took tonight?
"I think if you just look at the whole entire body of work and how hard they played, it was a field position game which we knew going in it was going to be, and we knew it had to be. I think it sums it up. I am very proud of the effort they gave, and the improvement they made. I love the kids in the locker room. That's the bottom line. They blocked out all of the distractions, and they really try to work. We've had good days of practice, and I felt good going into the game, but we didn't finish, and there will be a day when we will. We are going to continue to grind and work until we can."
On quarterback Jonathan Wallace's performance?
"Jonathan has made a pretty consistent track in terms of improvement out of practice, and we like his poise. He is an extremely intelligent young man when it comes to the game of football. He was very successful in high school with his team, and he earned the right to play. That is as simple as I can put it, and he will continue to earn the right to play some more.
"He did some things tonight. It is tough getting in there for the first time in a game like this and being productive. I am sure there are some things obviously that we will look at tomorrow that he can certainly improve on, but we figure that tonight was a good time to start with him. So, I was very proud of him. He secured the ball. He made some tough yards when we needed him to, which was exciting to see, and we will continue to work him."
On Auburn's running game tonight?
"It was an extremely difficult defensive line to run the ball inside on, and we knew that going in. Very few people have been able to do that. So, we felt like we had a good plan going in with some perimeter runs mixing up some of the inside runs as well. We can't totally get away from that, and at some points in there, a couple of things opened up for us.
"Again, we wanted to keep the game close with field position and try to run the ball some and hit the ball down the field a couple of times on some passes and keep the game close. So, we were able to open up some of the running lanes there to help us do that."
On the heart of the Auburn defense?
"I won't just say our defensive heart, I am going to say the heart of our football team period. Special teams, defense, but there was one point in there… third downs are a big deal for us, obviously, and they have been a big point of contention for us in the first few games, and I think at one stretch in there they had quite a few third down stops in a row (nine). We are starting to gain a little confidence. That was really, really good to see. They hit that one on us at the end of the game, the throw back off the boot there, and we missed a tackle, and that pretty much sealed the game for the most part or at least it got it down to the wire. Again, I am very proud of the defensive strides we made. Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely."
"Again, some of those are tight ends or substitution patterns. So if we feel like, again, when certain guys come into the game, particularly in the secondary, I think that is where you see it most often that if they have X amount of receivers in the game, then you bring X amount of DBs in the game.
"Therezie's role was a little bit different when they brought in two tight ends tonight. He is a physical corner and so we threw him in there and he played quite a bit in that role so you will see guys going in and out just depending on their roles. So, that is what you saw with those guys tonight including Erique."
Is this game going to eat at you on the missed opportunities?
"It is obviously something that you hope that when guys have opportunities to make plays with receivers that are open or guys who are in the open field, you see the right cut, and you make the right cut. Obviously, that is something that we wish they all would see and do, but the reality of the game is, it doesn't always work that way, but to say that it is going to eat at me, you can't pin one game down on this guy not doing this and this guy not doing that. I am not doing that. That was a team loss. That eats at me, but not the play of one particular guy on one particular play."
On when Robenson Therezie became a defensive back again and what went into that decision?
"Well, we still played him on both sides. Again, when you have guys that have some limited roles on either side, and you can do just a few things with them then they can bounce back and forth at practice and get both of those done. So, this week the role fit. We knew it was going to be a situation where they were going to come in with two tight ends and make it a very physical perimeter game as well as an inside game, and he fit the bill."
On running on 3rd and 12 on the next to last possession instead of passing?
"The thinking was that we were playing really well on third down, and the thinking was there was if I remember correctly, about four and a half minutes left in the game. It was all about field position because we needed a field goal to win it, and out thought was to see if we could pop some inside run on them. They were dropping back into a coverage that allowed us to do that or at least gave us a shot to do it.
"What we didn't want to do was have any turnovers or anything that backed us up with any negative plays, so it was a field position game at that point. I said it before and I will say it again, that if we have to put the game in the hands of our special teams, punting and getting out and creating field position advantages, we will always do that. Again, with our defense playing well on third down, we thought it would turn into a field position game, and that is why we did it."
On if Jonathan Wallace will play more going forward?
"I just think there are some things that he did in high school that he is very efficient at. So, some of the things that he did in high school, it is kind of like what we did with Kiehl (Frazier) last year. You bring these guys along, and you give them a small package. They grow in the offense in terms of what they can and can't handle, but he is very comfortable with that because he has done it a lot. I wouldn't read anymore into that. He has gotten better, and he has improved in that part of the game."
On Kiehl Frazier's performance?
"I think Kiehl did some nice things tonight. There is no question about that. There are going to be some throws that he wishes that he could take back, and we do, too, but overall, he is improving. I think he has to get back there and make decisions and get rid of the football, especially when you are going against pass rushes like the one we saw tonight, and the ones we are going to see a lot more of. Again, he is on a journey, and that journey is going to include a lot of days where you have to improve, and I think that has to continue to be the case."
On Offensive Coordinator Scot Loeffler coaching from the field instead of the press box?
"Going into the game, we just felt like in this type of game, it would be good to have him down there so he could certainly be there with Kiehl, looking him in the eye and being able to go over what just happened and be one step ahead down there with him down there on the bench with what was going to happen next. That combined with Jonathan Wallace being a part of the game plan, we felt that was the right thing to do."
On Corey Lemonier's performance?
"I think he did some nice things. I think he really played hard. I think that was really, really good to see, and he is going to have to continue to be a guy that steps up and can elevate the game of not just him, but that has to permeate through the rest of the defense. He made some things happen early, and I think the quarterback felt some pressure from him early. That is the idea. It doesn't always have to be a sack. We will look at the film tomorrow and really look and see exactly how well he played, but I know he played hard."
On where you wanted to get the ball on the final drive to kick a field goal?
"He can make them from 50, but we feel really good hitting right around the 23 yard line. If we get that thing from the 40 in, we feel like, it is in our favor."