"We've obviously struggled with turnovers and some inconsistencies, but that will get better. I've got a lot of confidence in these players. I've got a lot of confidence in this team. We just have to show a little more attention to detail. We do the little things better, and we'll be a better football team. We'll get better as the year goes on.
"I'm real proud of the way some of these seniors have stepped up this week in practice. We had a setback, but the season is long. We can get much better. We'll take it one day at a time.
"I know Brandon Cox has taken a lot of heat. He is our quarterback. He will be our quarterback. He's a good ballplayer. I think he's taken a little more on his shoulders the last couple weeks than he should have. He's tried to force the issue. He has taken some hits. He knew he would going into the season.
"One thing I've always liked about Brandon at Auburn and in high school is he is versatile and tough young man. He can take licks, get back up and keep swinging. He did that last year, and the year before. He's doing it again this year.
"That's the way it goes with quarterbacks. They get a lot of credit, and they get a lot of criticism. I'm proud of him. He is our starting quarterback, and he will be. I know that we're all disgruntled over our lack of points and inconsistency, but that's offense. When you play good defenses early in the season, your ‘lack of' shows up pretty quickly. It's shown up for us.
"The last few years we've won on defense, kicking game and running the football. This year our running game has not been up to par. That's probably the reason we don't feel as good about this team as we should. We'll get better. We'll work hard on it.
"I like what we've done in the kicking game. I've never seen in my tenure, a football team with two injuries to their main kickers in two games. It's made some young guys step up. Patrick Tatum did a great job filling in for Ryan Shoemaker last game. He's going to be a heck of a punter.
"Ryan is out this week. He has a dislocated elbow. He will get better the next couple of weeks and hopefully get back soon. We all have confidence in Patrick Tatum.
"Wes Byrum has a lot of guts. He came back and kicked last week with a swollen ankle. He competed very hard. He could not kickoff because he cannot run. He's gotten a lot better and could possibly kickoff this week.
"The one area that we normally don't have breakdowns on is our kick return coverage. We'd love to have that last kickoff return back.
"We've lived on the edge for the last three years. There have been a lot of close games, and we won most of them. That one got by us. There are a lot of reasons for it. We're not going to dwell on it. We're going to dwell on the positives because there were a lot of them.
"I thought in the second quarter our offense looked like a very good football team. We lost our momentum in the third quarter with two or three fumbles that set us back. We never really regained it. Hopefully, we'll regain it this week.
"I thought defensively, we competed hard. The defense kept us in the ball game. It could have been over by the third quarter if our defense didn't step up. It was a good defensive effort against a good team that will win a lot of games.
"We now know a lot about ourselves. We know what we need to do to win in the SEC. This one's behind us. We're going to look forward and work very hard.
"They opened up with a very good football team in LSU. You could tell how hard they played. It's very hard to play against all the skilled players they had. They made some mistakes, fell behind and things just fell out of place for them.
"Last week they got back on track. They are a football team that will improve, like ours, as the year goes on. ‘I hear all of these things about Sylvester being on the ‘hot seat.' If Sylvester Croom is on the ‘hot seat,' then we need to look around the room and check ourselves.
"Here's a guy that came in and took over a program that was dismantled and out of control. They needed someone to bring dignity and character back to their football program, and he has done that. I'm proud to say I'm a friend of his. He's done it the right way. He didn't just come in, skirt the rules and just try to throw a football team together to win. He's looking out for those young guys. He's doing it the right way. ‘If he stays there long enough I'd like for my kids to play for him. He's the kind of coach that you would like to coach your kids.
"It's going to take him awhile longer than three or four years. When you take over a program in the shape that one was in, it takes awhile to get things going. I'm sure he's got a 10-year plan. The problem is a lot of times people don't wait 10 years. That's their fault. When you take over a program like that you need opportunities to get it intact. He's done a great job.
"Hopefully, we'll knock him off this week. Every time we play them, players come up to me and say, ‘Coach, they play as hard as anybody we play.' We expect that this weekend.'
Will you talk to the players about a sense of urgency?
"They've had a sense of urgency. I've had no problem with the intensity and preparation. They understand. Offensive football is hard to play. It's all about execution. When you've got so many guys out there trying to do it for the first time, it seems like we can't get any consistency. The intensity is there. The hunger is there. This group has worked overtime. I have no complaints with anybody. The offensive staff takes it to heart. They take pride in doing things right.
‘We've got a lot of potential. As long as we keep making progress like we did from the first game to the second game, we're going to be fine.'
On possible shake-ups on offense?
"We're going to move some guys around to different positions to get them some different matchups. You do that anyway. That's part of coaching.
"We've got to make more plays. We dropped a couple of passes last week that would have helped. When you get called on as a receiver, you have to make the best of it.
"I saw some improvement, mostly in the run blocking. We'll see more improvement next week. Their work ethic has really been good.'
Are you involved with the offensive staff in fixing these problems?
"We talk about it. We watch film together. We talk about why we made this mistake. ‘Is there anybody else we can put in there that won't make that mistake?' Sunday is our biggest day. We start early around 6 a.m., and we go until midnight. It's usually on past games. We get together and self scout. We talk about changeovers. We start the game plan once we feel we have the answers for something going wrong. That's a part of it. Sunday is your day to do that.
"You do it more early in the season when you don't know as much about the younger guys. We discuss each player offensively. We scrutinize ourselves as well as the players. Most of our game plan is put together Monday.
You want a good start in every game. Is it more important to get that good start this week against Mississippi State?
"You always talk about a great start. The one thing you don't want to do is doing something that you might not be able to do. We start out our games pretty basic. We may try some different formations. Your plays are going to be about the same. Your blocking is going to be about the same.
"Sure, you'd love to come out and score 21 points in the first five minutes, but that doesn't happen very often. The thing you do want to do is build your confidence as you get along.
"We talk to our players about playing four quarters. You have to be able to play all the way through with the kind of games we're going to have. If we're in the game in the fourth quarter, then we fell we've got a great chance to win it. Last week, it kind of got by us. Most of the ones before last week, we've been able to finish.
"We're in great physical shape. Most defensive players are special team players. They play 75 to 80 plays a game. They played they entire third quarter the other night. They laid it on the line. There has been no finger pointing. They know they can win games just as well as the offense.
"The one thing that we talk to our players about is turnovers. You can't play 75 plays on defense and not create turnovers. We have to do that for us to have success, especially when you're turning the ball over on offense. There's room for improvement on the defense.
"Most of it is things that just happen when you're playing hard. I"m very pleased with the progress we've made on defense, but we can play much better."
You talk about Brandon Cox taking on too much, how do you handle that?
"When you have new running backs behind you and the only experienced guys are your tight ends, the quarterback thinks he has to do a little more. Brandon Cox understands how to play quarterback. Sometimes he throws it up for grabs. You wonder why he would do that, and then you look at it on film. You see why.
"He has worked hard. He watches more film than any quarterback I've ever been around. He'll have some success as we go on throughout the rest of the year. He understands that his job is to score points but also be a confidence builder for the other players. We want him to play hard and win games for us. He has the experience and know how to do it.'
The mobility of the USF quarterback gave your defense some trouble. There are more mobile quarterbacks down the road, does that concern you?
"We played pretty well. They're going to win a lot of games. Their scheme is like a two tailback system. He's tough if you're going to run that. I'm sure he's still sore from Saturday because we got to him a little bit. We played them just about how I thought we would. I'd like to have a couple of plays back from early in the game. They hit us with a couple things that we were a little too fast for.
"You have to understand how to play a certain quarterback or runningback. That's a trait of a good defense, and that's what happened. We adjusted well.
"A lot of people are going to that type of offense. They feel like it's easier to find this type of quarterback. It's an offense where you better have several of these quarterbacks because they are going to get beat up. It's a long season. It will be interesting to watch them go through the season. They have a good team.'
State of Mississippi native Quentin Groves, a senior defensive end for Auburn, will be making his final start against Mississippi State, a college he considered attending.
You chose to let the clock run down at the end of the fourth quarter instead of trying to win it in regulation. Is the gambler in you gone?
"I'm a gambler, but I'm not that much of a gambler. I would have loved to have the last series we had against Kansas State back. You have to pick and choose. We ran the ball the first couple of plays to see if we could get anything. If we could have, we may have taken a shot. We didn't get much on the first couple of plays so I decided to pull the plug.
"You have to go by your instinct. I'd do the same thing again. That wouldn't have been much of a gamble. That would have been suicide, trying to throw the ball deep against what they were doing defensively."