On the team playing well but still needing improvement… "The coaching staff and I are perfectionists. We still haven't had that perfect game and we know that it is hard to come by. The perfect game means being more successful on third down and also not allowing the other team to convert on third down; also being able to get the kicking game up and running. In kickoff returns and coverage I feel that we are losing a lot of hidden yards. So from our standpoint we still have a lot of room for improvement."
On working on tackling this week… "We have got to tackle better, there is no question about it. So whatever we do and how we approach it during the week defensively, tackling will be on the top of our priority list. For two weeks we have been very average at it and I think it has to do with approach angles and body position. They are correctable things, but I don't want to be saying the same things three weeks from now. We have to put a lot of attention on tackling this week and we have to be smart about how we practice."
On being worried about a dropoff after a big win… "The bottom line is that it doesn't matter. We have twelve games to play and whether you are playing the MAC Conference, the Big East or the SEC you have to show up ready to play. I doesn't matter who we would like to play, we have to be ready for whoever our opponent is. This will be another great test for us. We are taking everything one week at a time. If feel it's evident that week can't look at it any other way. We have to take it one day at a time and just concentrate on Auburn."
On the consistent improvement of play in the second half… "In the first half we are kind of feeling out what the other team is trying to do. This is tough to do early in the season, because in the first game, we haven't played in seven months. Then in the second game, we have to prepare for a whole new staff, we have to make our best guess on what they are trying to do. Then we played West Virginia, which is a very good football team. They have a very different defense with the three-down defense. It is hard to prepare for because you just don't know how they are going to use those three-downs in the game. So when you come in at halftime we start to tweak and adjust our game plan, both on offense and defense. We have to look at the quarterback they had last year and the one they have this year and see what he can do. I am very proud of our coaching staff that we have been able to make those halftime adjustments, that we needed to make to get the job done and it will continue to be that way. So as the year goes on you look at a team after five or six games and you prepare for them, they don't change much. Again I am proud of our coaches for their second-half adjustments."
On locker room atmosphere at halftime… "First, we all come together to talk about where we are offensively, defensively and special teams-wise, before we go back with the players. Then we break up and get with the players and make the necessary adjustments. So we communicate first then go back out and play. I think that there hasn't been a halftime situation that we have been so far up or so far down. I think overall right now our kids are not paying attention to the scoreboard and it's a 60-minute game. So we just keep chopping wood which will always give you a chance to win the game. Whether that is a halftime thing I don't know, but in general that is where we are right now."
On the importance of working young linebackers into the rotation, just in case they are needed down the stretch… "It's huge. We're getting on game four now, so we're a third of the way through the regular season after this week. And it's going to be a rough five week stretch here, and we know that. So, I think that everybody that can step up to the plate here has got to—the Harris Gastons, the Jonathan Evans, the receivers. Everybody that can come in right now and give some of these guys that have played so many snaps a chance to know that they don't have to play 85 snaps a game, I think that's huge. It's obviously huge physically, but it's also huge mentally going into the game and knowing that you are going to be substituted for and will get a break. It's great for team morale too. The more guys that play, the better it is for your team. So, some of those young guys have got to come on."
On if he has seen any signs of complacency among the team… "I hope not. I think our football team is smart enough to understand that we're not good enough to do that with anybody. And they are also smart enough to understand that we've got to fix Auburn, and that's a lot of fixing left. That's more fixing than anybody has room for right now, and I think they understand that. I don't think that's an issue, at all, with our guys."
On the return game… "We're seeing a little bit of a flash. We decided to go with (Anthony) Gulley back there as a punt returner. I was proud that there were no turnovers or drops. Actually, when we gave Gulley a little bit of room you could see a guy that he was willing to take it up in there, because a lot of punt returning is just willingness to want to do it. That's a courageous spot, and I really feel good about, if we can give him some time, him being a guy that can do that now and down the road. Our other return units right now are disappointing because we're one block away from being able to do this and that. It goes back to the continuity of the unit right now—we're always looking for hidden yards. The hidden yards are yards that show your starting point versus that of the opposing teams for the night—the yards that not a lot of people pay attention to. We're not winning those yards right now, and we're not good enough to not win those. And that one guy that's not getting his block has got to get it. We've got the potential to be good at it but right now, we're very average."
On if Gulley coming from a small high school creates a bigger obstacle for him… "I don't think so. Every guy is different, and I think it boils down to the guy. He was a baseball player in high school and he can judge balls in the air and things because of this. I don't think that whatever high school he came from plays a part. We've all seen the 5A all-star come in who can't play for three years; and then we see the 2A pretty good guy come in and play for four years. It all just depends on the guy, but Anthony is a tough kid. That's one thing I love about him, and he's got a lot of courage. And he wants to be really good. I think that combination will allow him to have a good career here."
On if he was happier with Saturday's tempo… "We're still working on it. There were times when the tempo got good, but I think that's a continuous work in progress. At times it was good, but we need to take it to another level."
On if Auburn is going to focus on the tempo against Ball State… "Yes. And it's not just Ball State; that's something we need to focus on every week. We feel like tempo is an advantage and it's something we've got to get better at."
On if any concrete decisions been made on redshirts, specifically Tyrik Rollison and Dontae Aycock… "No, I don't think so. It's just a long season, and we're only going into game four. One play Saturday could change all of our ides. Obviously, Tyrik and Dontae have not played yet, and if we continue on that path, then redshirting will be the idea. But we're just taking it day-by-day and seeing where our team is."
On if he was hoping to be able to rest any guys Saturday, after such a physical game vs. West Virginia… "If it was a perfect world and it ended up that way, we would be ok with it, but we're certainly not looking at it like that. We prepare for every game to be a last two-minute of the game win, and this won't be any different."
On if he thinks the team is better at anything in particular than he thought it would be at this stage… "I don't know that I could fairly answer that. For me, I see so much room for improvement everywhere that it's hard for me to say ‘we're really good at this' or ‘I wasn't prepared to be saying this three weeks into the season'. I don't know if I can be saying stuff like that and it be right, because I see so many areas of opportunity where we can play better. I just don't think I can say that."