Tuesday Press Conference Excerpts

We're excited about our first conference game. It's going to be on the road, a great opportunity and a great challenge. Even though Auburn lost some seniors to graduation we're going to be playing an outstanding team this weekend. It's also an opportunity to get something done we didn't do last year, as far as winning a SEC road game.

Team health this week: We were very fortunate to come out with no major injuries, just some minor things. Probably the most serious is Andrew Powell, he had surgery on his hand but he will play. We're still nursing a few guys, Will Prosser and Jason Husband are guys that are always going to have to be taken care of until they get back out there. But Will continues to play like last week I don't mind doing that, he was very productive, it was probably his best game since we've been here.

Tulane Update: As of now no plans have been officially made for our game next week against Tulane. We'll do that as soon as we have an answer exactly when and where we'll be playing.

Facing an Auburn team that just had win streak broken: For those players, you don't forget that loss anytime in the near future. Because it did end a winning streak and I'm sure all the players who a part in establishing that winning streak are going to be constantly reminded of it. But it also puts them in a position where they want to get another streak started. And we're first up. So we have to do our part to make sure that doesn't happen.

Auburn Receiver Size vs. State DBs: Auburn has very good receivers, they're big and productive. It's a little mismatch in size but I think that's probably going to be the case every week in the SEC. Everybody is going to big, tall receivers, guys with tight end type bodies, and the two Auburn has are very good players. We don't have many people to simulate those guys on the scout team, if we did they'd be playing! They're going to have imagine going up against tree-like individuals. Hopefully we can get enough pass rush to interrupt their timing so hopefully we don't get our cornerbacks in precarious situations.

Attacking Auburn Coverage: Keon Humphries gives us a speed weapon. But all our receivers have got to get a lot better this week because I'm sure they'll have their corners sitting in their face, trying to hold them up. We've got those smurf-guys out there so I'm sure Auburn will try to manhandle them a little. We've got to find a way to get them off the ball when we have a chance to make some plays.

I thought our passing game was more effective up the field (Saturday night) than any time last year. A lot of that had to do with we had better protection, that's where it all starts. We didn't have any sacks. We ran the ball reasonably well and we protected a lot better than I thought we would going into the game. We didn't have any busted protections. But this is going to be a different deal this week.

Auburn Defense Overall: This is one of the top defenses in the country. They have excellent athletes, and excellent scheme in place. They don't miss assignments and we're not going to get any cheap plays against them. They're not going to leave a man open or void zone coverages, if they blitz the guy is going to hit the right gap. So we are going to have to earn everything we get, there are not going to be any cheapies.

They're big and physical inside and very fast at linebackers. So they have size, speed, and discipline. After listening to that I don't know if we should go down there or not!

Their offensive line rivals some of the biggest lines I've seen in the National Football League. The line we had when I was at Green Bay was nowhere close to the size of these guys. They're huge, huge, they block out daylight. We're just going to try to run to the football, get our guys in the right gaps, keep our pad-level a little low. I told our linemen if they stand up they'll be on roller skates. We don't do a lot of changing, our schemes are in place. We won't do a lot of changing our schemes all year, we have enough to try to counter and adjust to what they do in every phase. But there won't be any changing, we'll have to do what we do almost to perfection.

They're a solid football team in every area. I watched the game the other night and was very impressed. The biggest difference from last year is just not having those two running backs, they were special. The running back they have now is very good but those two last year were in a class by themselves.

Auburn's Quarterback: He's a new quarterback. That's what you are always concerned about the first time playing. It's one thing being a backup, it's a different deal being a starter. I'm sure there were some butterflies and decision making that was just a little bit off because that game was played very fast. If you're a little bit off bad things will happen. I'm sure some things will get squared away and I don't expect him to make the mistakes he did last week. We've got to assume we'll get his best game this week, his coaches will get those things corrected and he'll be at the top of his game this week.

Relative Talent of the two teams: I mean, we're talking about one of the premier teams in the country. Even though they lost a game, Georgia Tech is a very good team as well. But as far as talent, we're not as talented as Auburn is. So what? We're going to line up and play, we've got a plan to give us a chance to win. We do have a chance to win, we're going down there with the intention of winning the football game. If we win it we still don't have as much talent as they do.

Evaluating the opening-day victory: In all our critical variables, the only stats I care about; in turnover we were plus, in sacks we were plus, touchdowns in the red zone we came out plus. The biggest thing was our defense gave up a touchdown in the red zone, if we'd held them to a field goal there we'd have been in great shape. In third down conversions we were very good, we were 100% on third-and-one, and 70% on defense stopping them on third down. But we did give up a couple of big ones on third down in the first half that kept it closer than it should have been.

On Omarr Conner's first game: He knew exactly what he was doing. I thought the tempo of the game was good, we didn't have a delay penalty and didn't come close. I thought he operated the no-huddle offense extremely well. He showed a lot of poise and confidence. The worst things he did was the low throw to Keon on the wide receiver screen and missing Bryson Davis in the flat that might have been a touchdown. If he makes those two throws he has a big night. I told him you got a little nervous, he was worried about getting that (record setting) fifth touchdown! I thought his play-action faking was very good, he threw the deep ball very well. His drop-back game was day-and-night above what it was last year, that's the biggest improvement he's made. It showed up against Murray State.

His first game at Auburn: I've never been in that stadium. At Alabama we always played in Birmingham. In fact I don't think I've been to Auburn but once or twice, but not in the stadium. I hear it's an outstanding facility, they did a big renovation while Coach Pat Dye was there. So I'm sure it's first-class.

Does he still ‘hate' Auburn?: It's different. But it's still there! I have a great deal of respect for their program…but it's still there.

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