"This is going to be a very exciting and challenging week for us now that we have moved past Tennessee, and our first road game was really huge. Looking back, we have seen what we have seen all season. There is a lot of room for improvement. We have seen improvement in some areas that we need them to improve, but to go into Arkansas and win another SEC road game is going to be tough. We are excited for another opportunity and moving on in the SEC."
On Arkansas' offense
"They are really good. You can't average almost 450 yards game and not be good at what you do. Their quarterback is very efficient, and if you follow coach Petrino that's a trademark. It is reminiscent of the quarterbacks he had at Louisville. They have a great overall scheme. They are well coached and play hard, but it is very similar to the things he has done in the past."
(On Ryan Mallett and the pressure he puts on defenses)
"He is an extremely good quarterback. I was at Texas when he was in high school so I knew all about him. He is a big, strong kid with an efficient arm, but also a cannon of an arm. He can throw it across the field 50 yards. He is what makes their passing game go. They also have some great receivers for him to throw to. Many times he puts the ball exactly where the DB can't get to it. Also, the receivers do a good job of holding on to the ball, and also they do a good job of getting yards after the catch, which is big for us. We have to work on our open-field tackling. He is very efficient and good at what he does."
(On the status on Nosa Eguae)
"It is a day by day issue with him. He is getting better but I don't know exactly were he is right now. We are at the point were as the season goes on, is it worth not red-shirting him? We are still at the point where if he can play we would love to have him, but as the weeks tick on we might have to lean towards red-shirting him."
(On the opposing offenses in SEC)
"It is unbelievable when you face all these high-powered offenses. The explosiveness and ability to score points makes it tough. When you look at the offenses throughout the country, it would be hard to ignore the SEC. Coach Petrino has always had a high-powered offense and that hasn't changed. It reminds me of some of the offenses in the Big 12 that can score at will."
(On preparing for a high-scoring game)
"We are not changing our approach. Obviously in this type of game you have to execute better than they do, and that is what this game is going to come down to – execution. Coach Petrino is not going to reinvent the wheel, but stick to his concepts, and we are going to do the same thing. This time of the year you have to execute better than the other team and that is what we are focused on."
(On playing the team's first early game)
"This is uncharted territory for us. All of our games have been night games so far and it will be interesting. For early games we get up, eat, then play, but it shouldn't really affect us. This does create a new series of things that we will encounter, especially with such a young team. Not only is this an SEC road game, it is also an 11:00 game, but that shouldn't matter."
(On field goal kicker Wes Byrum)
"I have to give him a lot of credit. Last weekend was the first field goal he has missed all season, but he came back and hit a clutch field goal to essentially lock up the game for us. He has been kicking well in practice. Everything he has been doing so far has been right on. We say you carry over to the game what you do in practice and he is a case in point of that."
(On how a good kicker can relive an offense of a lot of pressure)
"If Wes Byrum can continue kicking the way he has it take a lot of pressure off the offense, because any time you get around the 30- to 35-yard line you have a chance to score points and it is good to have that in your back pocket. He is hitting 40-plus yard field goals with pretty good consistency and is going to be big for us."
(On how he handles kickers)
"To me they are just like another player on the team. They go out and work just like everyone else. They do some things before practice, then work during practice and also stay after to work on their kicks and punts. Sometimes we will put a return man with them so we can try and fix our return issues. So they are kind of in their own world, but they are a part of this team and are treated that way."
(On team's view of the season as a heavyweight fight)
"We have said since day one that the season is not different than the great fights back in the days when there were all those great heavyweights. They were 12-round fights, and you take every round one by one, like we do for our season."
(On what it is about Malzahn's no-huddle offense that sets it apart)
"Well, I think a lot of times when you get to the no-huddle world it's not physical. When you come to what you are conceptually trying to get done--your quick passing games or throwbacks--this is really the opposite–faster tempo, still trying to really run down the field and be physical wears on a defense that way. You have the capabilities to still be a physical downhill offense, which we said from day one, is what we needed to be able to do, win—be able to run the football and be physical doing it. You have to keep a certain mindset when the tempo gets quick in order to wear on the defense, and I think we can do that. In no huddle, you've got to get lined up, and you can see the defense tiring as they line up."
(On Ben Tate and his physical mentality running the ball)
"I think Ben's really bought into the physical, downhill type mentality that we need to have, and he's run for a lot of tough yards now. He's had some perimeter runs where he's showed that he has got some speed and he can hit the corners when we've had to have some tough yards as well. He knows on Sunday that he needs to be really sore and beat up; he does, and he is. He's got to be able to run for those tough yards, and he's doing that. I thought that Saturday he really did a nice job of being a physical runner when he needed to be."
Ben Tate runs against the Tennessee Volunteers.
(On Tate running over Tennessee star Eric Berry)
"He's got to expect to do things like that and then get up and do them again. It's expected; we're not going to be on the sidelines jumping up and down yelling ‘rah rah.' He's got to just lineup and do it again. That has to be the mentality, that you're expected to do things like that. When you do it, it just becomes who you are."
(On what Auburn does to challenge your pass-rush during the weekly practices)
"It's tough because you obviously do the things that you do every week--your one-on-one pass rush and work with the O-line--but you can do some things schematically based on where the centers go and where the backs go. As a whole, right now, it does get challenging when you're going against a scout team, especially as thin as we are body wise. It doesn't really give you the challenge that you want, but you try and do as much good-on-good as you can with your offensive line. We've got to challenge our guys this week, because it's going to be huge."
(On how the artificial surface at Arkansas affects Auburn's offense)
"I don't see why it would affect us; we have it out here in practice. And we'll both be playing on the same surface. So, I don't see that being an issue."
(On if anything surprised him about last week's game at Tennessee)
"Nothing really surprised me, but it was really good to see them again push through the game, even though it wasn't always pretty. We took 27 new guys on the road with us, who had never travelled to a college football game. They played well as a team, and they fought through all of the times that they didn't look good, and we found a way to win—to win on the road in the SEC. I don't want to say that there was anything surprising but it was pleasing to see that we could fight through those issues and not be at home."
(On if he is pleased with the way the season is progressing
"I'm very happy with our football team, and I'm very happy for our coaches and our kids because they've worked really, really hard. Obviously, you can't be sitting any better than 5-0. That being said, what is very clear to our team, myself, and the other coaches is that we have got a long road ahead of us. So, we're glad that we are where we are, 5-0, but we've got a lot of great football teams left to play, two of which are in the top 4 for sure and three in the top 20. There's just a lot of great football left to play, but at this point in time, I'm very happy for our kids—they deserve it. They've played hard to get to this point and there's been a lot of change in their lives these last 10 months. But we've got a lot to do—they know that and we know that. But again, 5-0 beats the alternative."
(On safety Mike McNeill and if is he a candidate for redshirting this year)
"He's doing well. I think with him it's day-by-day, but he's made a good bit of progress. But it's like with Nosa (Eguae), at what point do you say enough is enough? Or, let's move on and take it to the next season. Right now, I think we're in that window where it's too hard to say—three weeks from now the conversation maybe different. I don't want him to go out and play at 85 percent, because I don't want to put a young guy in a position to not be at his best."
"Drew's struggling a little bit trying to get healthy, he's day-by-day. Mike's a little bit better, and as the days go on I think he's getting healthier. But with Drew, I think it's going to be a little bit."
"Well if you're asking that from Mike McNeil's perspective, he doesn't care one way or the other, he just wants to get back. If you're asking that from our perspective, it's nice to see a young guy be able to come in and play and help us out. Obviously, that's positional and we don't have a lot of that. Daren's covering punts and playing special teams. So, I don't think it's made it any easier. We need all hands on deck for the next seven games. But it's comforting for the coaching staff to know that there's a young guy that can come in and do the job, and Daren's gotten better every week."
(On if Bates' talent is built or learned)
"I think to a large degree it's built-in, and the biggest challenge for a guy like Daren is to learn what to do. I think it's just built into Daren to be aggressive and just be a physical guy, and I think that as the season and years go on you'll see him being more physical. But for most people, I think it's just kind of built in them. And he's one of those guys, who I think has got it. "
(On what made Bates stand out during recruiting)
"Well there are always those under-the-radar guys and there's usually a story behind it—they transferred late or they were here. And I think he was one of those boys, and we did our homework on him, watched him play basketball. Really went into some in-depth
conversations with his high school coach, and we put a lot of trust into
those guys. You know, it was my belief that he was being very
under-recruited, just by looking at his body and watching him play
basketball, just his circumstances, and we just thought that he was one
we definitely needed to take a chance on. So, so far, it's paid