Quoting Auburn Coach Gene Chizik

Comments from Auburn's head football coach are featured as the Tigers prepare for the Ole Miss Rebels.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn head football coach made these comments at his Tuesday, Oct. 27th, 2009 football press conference.

"We're really excited to obviously move on and play another great SEC game. It's going to be really fun for us just to be able to come back home and play in front of our great fans It's going to be an 11:21 a.m. kickoff.

"We're excited about being back at Jordan-Hare in front of our fans It will be a fun day, but a challenging weekend. Ole Miss is a very good team; probably the most balanced, running the ball and throwing the ball, that we've played up to date.

"Defensively, they have great players. They average about three sacks a game on defense and they are very solid all around. It's going to be a great challenge for us, since they are such a good football team. But at 11:21, we're looking forward to kicking off."

How's the team mentally after three losses?

"They are great, they've been great. Sunday we came back in here and it was just what I expected. I'm really proud of this group. These last couple of weeks has shown their true personalities and their marks. Just from talking to them individually, I can tell that they really want to win. So, they've been excellent.

"I'm really proud of our few seniors; they've really stepped up to the plate. We're moving past last week and on to the next game. It's really what you want to see as a head coach."

Can you see anything in the offense that has caused the recent problems?

"I don't think that there is one thing that you can pinpoint. Nine guys can be doing everything right and two get beat. It's a little everywhere, a breakdown here or there that causes certain things to be exposed. And when you play teams like we're playing, the LSU's of the world, seemingly little things turn into big things. We're not panicking by any stretch of the imagination.

"We've got to get better at what we do. The players know that, the coaches know that, and it starts with me. We've made that very evident as a coaching staff that we have to get the details ironed out and get better at them. The level of competition has gone up, and we have to get better at what we do. But again, you just can't pin it on any one guy."

How do you fix the little things?

"I think you just have to go back and look. Sunday was a day of detail for us. We spent a lot of time just breaking things down and looking at them to the 'nth' degree, but you know, it can be a guy oversetting a block by a little, but against a great player that could be a two yard loss instead of a three or four yard gain. It's just those types of things here and there. That's not just offense, that's everyone on our team.

"Defense, we play fairly well against the run-game Saturday but one guy gets out of position and it's a 60 yard touchdown for the other team. Right now it's everywhere on our team and, we've been spending the last few days going over them and trying to fix the intricacies. That's what we're working on."

What about how Antoine Carter played and him being a factor in the future?

"I think it would be very big. I'm very proud of Antoine and he's recovering. You don't know until you see someone out there against the big guys how they are going to play, but I thought he really came to play Saturday night. He did some really nice things. It's really good to see him back to being close to what he was in the spring, before the injury. We need him for this home stretch--last four games. And with our situation on the defensive end, it's good to have the depth. He played great Saturday, one of his best games, no question."

How is Kodi Burns doing?

"He's great. You look at a guy, and think about an Auburn man, and there's Kodi who gets two teeth knocked out, carries them off the field in his hand, but comes back to finish the game. I told our football team, it wasn't that he was going to finish the game at wideout where no one could get to him. He came out and finished the game at wildcat where he knows he's going to get hit. Eleven guys knew that they were going to hit him, and he just kept on plugging away and getting at the ball. I am very proud of him and made that very clear to our football team. That kind of courage, and that much mark of a man. Kodi is just a special guy. I've said that from the beginning"

How did the team respond to not practicing on Sunday?

"We've been practicing three straight months, and we haven't had a day off. I thought it'd be a great time to take more time on the film and the mental aspect of the game and just trying to go over in more detail just taking our time. Our practice time is short on Sunday's anyway so I just thought it'd be a good time to work on our mentality--why we were good at time, why we were bad at times. Plus physically, I thought it'd be a good time just to take a day off so I thought that the timing was really good and that we're great. They were excited about really looking at the film. Their response was great, and I think that the timing was just right."

How much do you think fatigue has played into this slide?

"I don't know if I can actually say one way or the other. At the end of the year it's about executing, it's that simple. This is a point in the year where everybody is tired so I don't want to use that as an excuse. We've just got to execute better to win. Penalty-wise, we're getting a lot. And when we finally settle down, it's not as obvious. But defensive penalties set us back, and we had some chances to get the ball back--but we didn't do that. These are the areas of our football team we know that we can certainly improve on."

The guys went through something similar to this last season. What have the guys learned from what happened last season compared to now?

"If there was any finger pointing or anything like that going on, well I just don't think that they want to go there. It's like all of us, you're a product of the past. Do you want to be like the past, or do you want to be different from the past? That's everybody sitting in this room. You can choose to be like it or you can choose to be different. When I'm saying that I am proud of the football team there is absolutely zero of that going on and there won't be.

"So, if that was the case (last year), well I don't know, because I wasn't here. If that was the case, then they have chose to go in another direction. That's who they are right now, and that makes me happy. As long as we continue to do that, then we will have a chance to win every game we play if we execute, and it's that simple."

Chris Todd has been through a lot. How tough do you have to be to be a QB in the SEC?

"I think you have to be tough to be a quarterback anywhere, because so many people want to pin all the great stuff on the quarterback and they want to pin all the bad stuff on the quarterback. I think it's human nature. It's from the beginning of time. Common sense will tell you that there is a lot of pressure on those guys. That's what makes the league great, that's what makes college football great. The position comes with what it comes with and they all know that. I don't think that is Chris' case right now, that he pays a whole lot of attention to it.

"Let me tell you something. Chris Todd is a quarterback that when it is third-and-7 and he has five guys in his lap, that's not Chris Todd, that's different people, and that's the point I was making earlier. Its just like when in the first five games and we were throwing for this many yards, yeah he threw a nice ball, but last time we checked there were guys protecting for him or a receiver went up and caught a great ball so I think that the more they can come to grips with the reality of that, the easier it is to handle some of the criticisms that come with not winning."

How important was it to come out on Sunday, and say, "He's our guy" for Todd and his confidence?

"I don't know how important it was for him, but it was important for me and obviously he gives us, in our opinion, the best chance of winning. He needs to know that we have confidence in him. He does know that."

How do you keep a guy like that (Todd) from thinking that he is one play away from getting benched, even if it's not the case?

"You need to ask him that. Really and truly I just think that a quarterback has to be a tough-minded person. It all comes with the territory and they all mentally have to be prepared for it. If you're not mentally tough enough to get through those things then more than likely you shouldn't be a quarterback in this league. That's just the way it is. I mean it's no different than coaching, right? You get the good and you get the bad and it all comes with the deal."

You're not the only team that has struggled in the passing game. Does that speak on how strong the league is defensively?

"No question about it. When you go and look, and I look at teams every week on defense, and, let me tell you what, every team's got great corners, there is somebody in that front four, a minimum of one, more than likely two or more, that can rush the passer. Run defense in this league is paramount. Everybody's pretty good at that, too. It is such a talented league on the defensive side of the ball. Not that it's not on offense, but it's just a great defensive league. Always has been."

What are some struggles that come to the table with defending guys like Dexter McCluster?

"He is a very good player. McCluster is one of those guys that is coming into his own. Not that he hasn't always been a really good player, but now it's not just wildcat and it's not just receiver. Now all of a sudden he is your dotted I tailback a lot of the time. You know, 20-some odd carries worth last week or close to it and if he hits a crease, he's gone so that's an added weapon right now that I think they have hit on. Not that they didn't always know that he was a great player, but he plays on a whole different speed now. If you watch the film, his speed on the field is a little different than everybody else, so that is a challenge."

Dexter McCluster has been a big-play threat for Ole Miss at receiver, tailback and wildcat quarterback.

How much does McCluster help quarterback Jevan Sneed?

"No question. I mean you have to take pressure off the quarterback because you have to put eight or nine guys in there to defend the run. That does some things for your passing games. They have some really good receivers, and Jevan is a really good quarterback so he has some very talented, athletic guys and some big guys that can hit. If you loosen the secondary up a bit, you can't bang up on those receivers like you want to, and that opens up the passing game for you."

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