Quoting Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville

Comments from Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville's Tuesday press conference are featured:

"Vanderbilt is a much improved team. Bobby Johnson and his staff have done a great job. They have good skilled players, they have good lineman, they have a solid defense. They have been running the same thing for last three or four years. They have had a little bit of bad luck over the last few years but it looks like the luck is changing in their favor. They are making plays, they are keeping guys healthy and they are playing with a lot of confidence. When you have a lot of skilled players as they do then you will play with a lot of confidence.They are competing with everybody. Again, Bobby and his staff have done a great job."

"We are going to go in this weekend worried about what we can do, what we can control and try to get better. Hopefully we can get some guys back so they will be able to improve in practice and not just getting them back for game situations."

On the return of tailback Brad Lester from his six-game suspension.

"He won't start. He will have a role to play. This is the first game of the season for him. First games are usually tough because you're not in playing shape even though he has been practicing. Ben Tate and Mario Fannin will play ahead of him but he will get some. Depending on how he does and how he handles the situation is to how much he has the next week. We are glad he's back.

"The other two guys have put in a lot of work.I was really impressed with our pass protection last week. They were able to keep blitzing linebackers and defensive ends from getting to Brandon allowing him to throw the football. Brad has been away, he wants to earn his way back. He has been there before so he knows how to handle the situations he will face. We just need to ease him in just to see how he will play and let him know he has a role to fill."

On Auburn's success vs. Top 10 opponents

"We don't treat them any different. Our philosophy helps us in terms of big games. We don't have a change in practice time or intensity. We talked about going on the road.

"Our style of play fits playing in big games especially on the road. We are a running team so that doesn't bother us too much in terms of crowd noise. We have won a lot on defense and the kicking game and you can do that out in the parking lot. This staff has done a great job we have won a lot of big games, so have other teams.

"We pride ourselves on trying to get guys to play the same every week. It's almost impossible to get them to play with the same intensity every week. To see them play with the intensity of Saturday night didn't catch me by surprise but you never know how a young team is going to react especially on the road. They took it as a major challenge. I think it was fun to them. We had four home games in a row and that's too many and we had five in a row a couple of years ago and that's way too many. You need a break and they looked forward and again they were embarrassed by the way they played early on. We looked at it as a challenge to prove to everybody that they were a great team.

"I told them they didn't have to play a great game to win as long as we play solid for four quarters and we played pretty solid. We'd like to play better at times. This staff does a great job of getting them ready to play every week. Sometimes the intensity has got to be there."

On expanded playing time for freshman defensive end Antoine Carter with Quentin Groves out with an injury.

"Antoine has been an asset to a team that needs defensive linemen to step up. Very seldom will you see a defensive lineman play as a true freshman. He's pretty special. He's got quickness and speed. We are thankful that we chose to play him early in the season. I think that's going to help him now that we need him to play more. He didn't grade out well early on but the effort was there. He's going to get better and better."

On wide receiver Rodgeriqus Smith and his improvement since walking on

"Well anytime a walk-on makes any improvement is good. We knew that he would be good by his work ethic and as a walk on you better have a great work ethic.He is soft spoken but he's tough. Saturday night his catches put us in situations to help us score 14 points.

"There were several third downs that weren't perfect passes. There was one at his knees and one on the sidelines that he managed to get one foot in bounds. He's learning. He's not as good as he will be next year but we got to get him the ball. I was talking earlier about how we didn't get him the ball enough in the first few games because we didn't have time with the protection not being there. Rod's a good football player that's going to get better."

On the wide receivers improving in game five vs. the Gators.

"We talked about concentration as we have been all week with any game. When you go on the road even they noticed that somebody's go to make a play. We told our offense you've got to control the ball more because of how good they are on offense. If you don't hold on to the ball or you don't make plays then our defense will be on the field 70-75 plays and then we will be in some serious trouble.

Everybody has got to understand their role and the situation your in whether you are playing at home or away. They knew the intensity that we would have to play at. They knew the environment. I think the concentration was a lot better."

On the offensive line

"They are getting better. I would grade them out about a C on their first road game. We missed some blocks. There were some times where we could have had some really big gainers. I think that had to do a lot with the hearing the snap count and get down field like we do at home. We are real close at being an SEC type line. We aren't there but Coach (Hugh) Nall has done a good job of moving guys in and out. We are going to change our offensive line this week. We are going to mix it up and it could be that we have one or two new starters in the line up. We just got to get it to where we can create competition in the line up. If you have competition then it's just amazing how much better both players get. Everybody wants to be a starter and we are going to give it to the ones that are trying their best, earning that position and making this team better."

On defensive lineman Sen'Derrick Marks

"He was really not highly recruited. I had an opportunity to just go down and stop by the high school. One of the coaches talked a little about Sen'Derrick. We heard a little bit about him and fortunately for us he was practicing basketball at the time. I got to watch him practice, to see how he handled the ball and how he jumped with his explosion. Before we left that day, we offered him a scholarship and we were very fortunate that he decided to come here. He's a type of athlete that you need to play on the defensive line. He could probably play linebacker, he's that athletic.

"You could put him in the middle, not outside, but he could play in the middle, because of his lateral movement and his explosion. He's a bonus for us because he can play on the inside and outside on the defensive line. He's got a tremendous attitude toward playing. He loves playing. Just the effort he gives on field goals, a lot of guys might think they have been out for 10 plays they might take this one off.

"The effort he gave on that field goal gave us an opportunity to win that game. It put us in the situation to win that game of them having no points in the first half and 14 points for us which was huge for us going in with the momentum. Sen'Derrick always has a smile on his face. He always comes in to work ready at practice to try and get better. He is going to be a special player the next few years for us."

On the success of South Florida

"We go back and look at the press conference we had, I said that Kansas State and South Florida were going to win 9, 10, or 11 games this year. I knew our first two games were going to be as tough as anybody's in the country. We had a chance. South Florida won the game, but we turned it over five times. We should have won the game. We just didn't play enough in certain situations. I knew that game and the West Virginia game were the two they were going to point at. We go their best effort and they got us. They'll end up being a Top 10 team all year long. Kansas State, we know how they're doing. We watch them on film during the summer. We knew what we were in for.

"We knew those first two games were going to be something that we would find out pretty quickly of how good we were. We were fortunate enough to beat Kansas State. We took advantage of situations. Brandon came in, being the experienced guy that he is, to win it on the last drive, almost the last drive. Its no surprise at all that those two teams are doing well. The will just get better because they had really good athletes when they came in here.

On the questionable penalty in the fourth quarter of the Florida game called on Auburn's punt coverage team.

"We turned it in. We take all of the clips and send them across the wire. What we will say is we think this should have been called and they will send it back with an explanation. They usually send it back on Tuesday afternoon but I hadn't got that one back. I'm sure it will be a long explanation probably about my antics too. It's judgement the guy thought he made the right call. I didn't think he did. In the heat of the moment that was a serious time for us because we were fighting to hang on.

"Sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in. I didn't realize I was that far out on the field. It's amazing you are out in front of 85,000 people and a television audience and you don't know where your at after screaming and hollering. I think our defense responded to that. They knew I was out there fighting for them. It worked out pretty good for us. There's no ill feelings, it was a judgement call. They are there all of the time, they made the call they thought was right. I made the call I thought was right. I'm anxious to see what they say when they look at it.

On the penalty against the AU punt coverage team in the fourth quarter and Urban Meyer's time out to try to ice Wes Byrum

"I think people hated the halo rule, because it was so hard to enforce is the one yard, two yards, three yards. Now, you just have to give them a chance to catch it. There's a lot of catch and hits at the same time as long as they catch the ball, that's the rule. The time out situation, what can you do? When they gave the head coach the ability to call time outs from the sideline, they put that in affect. I would have done it different I would have done it before he kicked it and not let him have a free shot and warm up and kick it again. It's pretty tough, you think you've won probably the biggest game of the year and you have to turn around and walk back.

"As I said earlier to some reporters, I started to go talk to Wesley during that time out. I saw a smile on his face and I didn't want to go interrupt his "good feeling time" so I went back to the sideline and was a spectator like everybody else. You can't imagine what goes through a young man's mind when you after he's kicked it, the feeling, and then you got to go back out there and do it again. It's got to be tough. I don't know how you can change it, you got the right to call a time out."

On Byrum's re-kick on the winning field goal

"He didn't hit the ball near as good on that one. The first one looked like it would have been good from 60 yards and that one looked like it would have been good from 43 yards which is where he kicked it from. He didn't catch all-of-the ball. He keeps kicking it like that I might use my time outs every time right before he kicks one and bring him over to talk to him then send him out."

Commenting on Vandy QB Chris Nickson

"He was the high school player of the state. Vanderbilt saw a lot in him and we did to but we weren't looking for that type of quarterback at the time. He's a great athlete. He's a lot like Kodi Burns or Pat White. We've seen a couple but Tebow isn't as a illusive and a lot of the same offense. The quarterback at South Florida, who isn't as quick but has the same mentality, a guy that takes control of the game, runs the ball when he needs to and can throw it too. We've seen a few of those over our time. That's how college football is moving, to a quick quarterback who can move out of the pocket and not just a drop back guy."

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