Opening statement: “After reviewing last week’s game film, overall we were happy that we won. We are 1-0 in the SEC, but we have a lot of areas to improve. We made some mistakes, and we will work very hard this week on correcting them.
“We are playing a very solid San José State team. They played very well their first game and they have had a little extra time to rest and prepare--they played on Thursday. Last time they played a ranked opponent, Fresno State, they won so we will have to be prepared. We will have to play well.
“Their quarterback was 22-25, had three touchdowns, throws very well, and he has good targets to throw to. Their defense did a solid job. Their head coach--everywhere he has been he has won so we are expecting their best and we are going to have to play better and improve from week one to week two.”
What needs improvement?: “We need to work on overall execution, offensively, defensively and special teams. The great thing about a first game is you usually improve more from the first game to the second game than you do all year, and that is what we have to do.
“Compared to last year we made fewer mistakes, but there are still so many things that need to be tweaked. We have to make sure our alignments are correct, and the things that allow you to execute a play.”
Was Auburn’s offensive pace what he wanted it to be vs. Arkansas?: “I was pretty well pleased, especially once we got first downs and once the ball got rolling. Our guys lined up quick and I thought they did a solid job.”
How much did the experience on your team help Saturday?: “It was very comforting to go into the locker room and see the way our guys were ready to respond. They have been there before, they have experienced that feeling before and the great thing was our coaching staff had also experienced that numerous times last year.
“They listened up and the coaches made some adjustments, and they went out there and executed. They really raised their level.
“In a first game there is a lot of feeling-out time. What are the new schemes they are trying to throw at us? We need to be able to make adjustments. Our guys settled down and played a very good half of football after halftime.”
On Jeremy Johnson’s performance: “That confirmed what we knew about Jeremy. We’ve been saying for a long time that he is a very talented quarterback. It was good to see him go out there and perform like that and we were very impressed as a coaching staff. We said he would have a role even before that game and he will. Each week it could possibly be a little different.”
Jeremy Johnson threw two touchdown passes vs. Arkansas.
On Corey Grant’s performance: “Last year he was primarily outside and now he’s really doing a solid job with his inside running. He will get more and more comfortable as the season goes on. What I liked about Corey is that he finished runs. He was looking to get his pads low and looking to finish and run people over. I was proud of him and of Cameron Artis-Payne both from a running back standpoint.”
How will Grant and Artis-Payne rotate?: “We’ll just see each game. It could be different. We feel very good about both of them. I know Cameron had a very good first game, but we feel very good about Corey, too. We’re going into this thing each week as 1 and 1A.”
Has Grant improved his strength?: “Corey’s always been a strong guy in the weight room. He is physically strong and he is getting more comfortable. He is a very strong young man and he is getting his pads down low and not doing a lot of dancing in between the tackles. He is hitting it and that has made a big difference.”
On Melvin Ray’s performance?: “I was really happy for him Saturday because he has been probably the most consistent receiver we’ve had in fall camp leading up to the game. He wants to practice and practice extremely hard, doing all the little things right. He was rewarded with a very good game. He is a veteran guy who understands defenses. He is a good blocker and he made two big impact plays to help us win that game.”
Does Cameron Artis-Payne run with a chip on his shoulder?: “I think that is fair to say. He really does have that attitude. He lost a little bit of weight. I think he’s a little quicker and faster than he was last year. He has had a good fall camp, too, and it was good to see him be successful. I think that will help him with his confidence moving forward.”
How was Auburn’s pass rush vs. Arkansas?: “We definitely need to get better at pass rushing. This time last year was really similar. We got better each week so that is what we’ll work really hard to do.”
On the ball boy’s speed on Melvin Ray’s touchdown catch and run: “That was pretty impressive. I didn’t know he could run that way. We do have our ball boys fly around in practice to spot the ball, but that was the first time I really got to see him turn it loose.”
Were there breakdowns in the secondary?: “We are going against a very good passing team. They were very good last year and their new quarterback looks very good with a strong arm. Their receivers catch the ball and attack the ball. That is going to be a challenge this week.
“We had a little trouble lining up early. They had some new wrinkles and they were busting out of the huddle really quick. Our guys settled down in the second half once we figured out what their plan was.”
How is communication on the left side of the offensive line?: “I thought the communication was good. Any time, even if you have veteran guys, if you move like Chad Slade moved from right to left or just the opposite. Avery (Young) moved from right tackle to right guard. There are going to be some growing pains you’re going to go through with communication. Each game, as long as we stay healthy, I feel like we’ll get better and better.
“You can do so much in practice, but in games you don’t know what you’re going to get and so guys have to make adjustments. I think overall for the first game working beside new people, I felt pretty good. The great thing is that they want to get better, and they have that attitude. If they stay healthy, they’ll have chance to be a really good lineup.”
Will you experiment this week against a non-conference opponent?: “No, we’re going to do exactly what we feel like gives us the best chance of winning. We’re approaching this game just like it was last week. We’ve got to figure out a way to get better each week, each practice. We’re going to do what we do, and we’ve got to get better. That is the way we’re approaching it. There won’t be anything that changes or not play these guys as much--no, we’re going at this thing. We’re going to try and get better from week one to week two.”
On the rotation at the defensive front four: “Coach Garner rotates guys just like he did last year trying to keep guys fresh and all that. We’ll do the same thing as the season gets going. You could see some different things like you did last year. We’ll still rotate guys to keep them fresh.”
On D’haquille Williams’ potential: “He’s very talented and we saw that in the spring and saw that in fall camp. I was happy for him that he was able to transition success in practice to the field. It’s like anything else--the more comfortable he feels in our offense the better he will be. That was the first time he really got out there in a full-fledged game and everything that goes with that. I really believe he’ll get more comfortable as the season goes, but he definitely had an outstanding game.”
Does Williams remind you of another receiver?: “He is a little bit different probably than we’ve had in the past. I’ve had speed guys or big guys and all that, but he’s probably a little bit different.”
On Quan Bray taking a snap in the wildcat formation: “Quan played some quarterback in high school and when he was a true freshman when I was here before as a coordinator he worked a lot in the wildcat. I trust him with the ball. He can do a lot of different things. I think everybody saw in his punt returns that he really did a solid job. He is a guy that we trust. He is a senior. He gives us a lot of versatility.”
On “star” rover Mackenro Alexander, who did not play in the opener: “He is practicing like everybody else and we’ll see what happens. Everybody has to earn their way on the field.”
Will Nick Marshall throw the ball more than he did vs. Arkansas: “Like I said all off-season, our goal is to be more balanced. It just so happened that we were successful doing a few things, so, as a coach, you keep doing it if something is working like Jeremy throwing the ball. We have a lot of confidence in Nick throwing the ball and really feel like he will be very successful this year. And I’m going to say the same thing about Jeremy--he can run the zone read and he can do all the running stuff that we need him to do in our offense. Each situation dictates different things. They give you some things, they take away some things and the challenge of being really good on offense is being able to take what they give you and answer it and being able to execute that answer.”
What pressure did Nick Marshall put on the defense: “I think a couple of things happened. Our line got stronger as the game went on. When Nick is on the field they are concerned with him on the edge and that opened up some alleys for our run game. He did a solid job, even in the passing game. I think we had a drop, but he did a good job when he did throw it. We have a lot of confidence in him.”
On not converting two third down short yardage plays in the first half vs. Arkansas: “We didn’t execute. That’s the reason it didn’t go our way. Two of the things offensively that stuck with me after the game were the third and shorts--we had a couple of breakdowns. Here’s the thing about it, they are both correctable. They did catch us on a stunt, a pretty good disguise of a stunt. That’s just a matter of our line coming together and getting used to working together, getting experience. We had some new guys in some new positions. There is no doubt that we’ll get those corrected, but that was one of the sore spots.”
On Robenson Therezie’s impact on the defense: “He is an impact player. Last year he made a lot of big plays for us. He made a couple of big plays, and not just the one where he hit the quarterback. He also caused a fumble.We didn’t get it, but it was a very good angle he took in the way he finished the play.”
On the coaching staff’s halftime adjustments: “The goal is to be very calm. We let our players use the facilities, get watered up, get checked out. Our coaches have a six to seven minute span where we talk through things. The offensive staff and defensive staff get together and make adjustments. Then we have a six-minute window to get with our players and make the adjustments.
“Our players deserve a lot of credit because coaches can have all the adjustments they want, but the players have to go out there and execute the adjustments. I was very proud of our players on both sides.”