Auburn, Ala.--Auburn head football coach Gene Chizik's postgame comments are featured after Auburn's 52-26 victory over Arkansas State.
"It's great to have a win. It was good for our football team to get our first game under our belt.
"Obviously, if you watched the game, there were a lot of glaring things that weren't very good, but things that I think are very fixable and things I think we can build on. I think the positives in the game were that we had a lot of explosive plays on offense. I think second half defensively, we got a better feel for what they were doing. It was a little bit difficult with a new offensive coordinator, trying to figure out what he did at a different school versus what he would do now with different types of personnel. That became a little challenging.
"Our tackling was at times good. At times it was not very good, but there were some glimmers of what we would like to be on offense and defense.
"On special teams, I was really proud. We really kind of soaked our special teams with a lot of young guys, and I think you could see that there was some spark in some of our special teams. The third quarter was disappointing initially because that was when you were hoping to come out and really make a statement, and the statement we made was not a good one. We turned the ball over right off the bat, and they went in and scored. So, we had to try to get the momentum back. I liked that because we fought through all of the things that were not good in the game, and we kept fighting through those.
"Again, a lot of young guys showed up today. You saw Craig Sanders cover kickoffs. That was glaring. Michael Dyer rushed for almost 100 yards. That was great. We did some things on all sides of the ball that were encouraging, but we have so much work to do to play an SEC game in five days. We have to start tomorrow, and we have to correct a bunch of things that I think our whole football team understands that we have not arrived yet."
(On Cameron Newton*s first game at Auburn"
"When you go through practice, it is really hard to figure out what quarterbacks in a lot of ways can do because when you have athletes back there like Cameron, there are certain things they can make when they don*t have anything. Certain runs they can make, and certain things they can do with the ball when there is nothing there, and that is really hard to tell in practice.
"As you can tell tonight, he did some nice things when maybe something wasn't there when he turned bad plays into potentially good ones. That is really good. Cam has a lot of work to do right now on our offense in just running it and being where we need to be in this league. For his first football game, I couldn't be prouder of what he did. He will be the first to tell you he knows there is a lot of work to be done. Overall, I'm glad he got this game under his belt and had some success both running and throwing. I think that was important."
Did you play as many young guys as you hoped?
"I think we did. We played a lot of young guys. The thing that was encouraging tonight is we played a lot of young guys when the game was still in hand and tried to rotate our defensive linemen and get a bunch of young guys in there.
"We tried to rotate our secondary and get some young guys in there, same thing at linebacker. I know we did the same thing offensively with a couple of young guys over there. I think that was encouraging, and we are going to continue to do that and of course at the end of the game, they all got a lot of reps as well.
"If you look at our special teams, I was proud of our kickoff team for the first time. When you look out there, there is a bunch of freshmen on there and that is what their role is right now on our team to be able to help our team cover kicks, cover punts, kickoff returns and things of that nature. I think a lot of them got a lot of valuable experience tonight."
With a short week before Mississippi State, can you pinpoint anything you need to work on?
"It is just our level of focus and concentration sometimes was just extremely sloppy. Our protection of the football was extremely sloppy. That's disappointing. That's really disappointing. With all the good things that I think that we are going to look at that film and see tomorrow, those were glaring to me. When you go into league play, we are not good enough to beat anybody doing that."
(On Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb combining for 23 carries tonight and Mario Fannin only having three, is that a sign that you see the two as every down guys more so than Mario at the tailback spot?
"I don't think I would necessarily read into that at all. I think what we try to do offensively is we really try to get what they give us and take what we think is there. I really wouldn't go that far. Mario had some great catches out of the backfield as you saw. Mario did that for us a lot last year. He is a very extremely talented athlete.
"Then, the young guys got a chance to run the football, and we mixed it up pretty good with those guys. I was proud of Michael protecting the football when he ran it. He rushed for almost 100 yards in his first college game and hopefully he gains more confidence.
"Onterio has really been steady for us all the way through camp. We feel like we can give all three of them the ball I guess is the morale of the story."
How much do you let your team enjoy this win?
"I think you enjoy tonight. It is like we talked. I said I want you to enjoy this win. No question, wins are hard to come by. You are going to look up at some scores tonight from some people and be shocked for sure of teams that you would think arguably would beat somebody and didn't. Every win is great. Every win is hard, but they do not have to be satisfied with the way that we won. Everybody ought to be happy that we won, but I don't think there is anybody in our locker room that was satisfied with how we won because everybody knows there is so much room for improvement. I think that is fair."
What happened on the pass defense breakdowns that allowed big plays
"Again, there were some things they were doing early in the game right now that we really had to adjust to. They did a nice job. That offense is very similar to ours. It is fast paced, high tempo, check at the sidelines, see what you are doing, and there were some things that they had done that we hadn't seen the offensive coordinator do at the previous school that he was at. It took us a little bit.
"I was proud of the way the guys stood up and made some plays at critical times. Obviously, I'm not proud of some things that we gave up with some missed tackles and some missed reads and some of the passing game early. That long one on the first touchdown drive. That was disappointing to see. Again, we are going to look back and see some nice things that they did, too."